Statement on the term “Presumptive.”

Matagorda County Hospital District Statement on the term “Presumptive” in the statement “Presumptive Positive Coronavirus (COVID-19) Case.”

Through phone calls, emails, and statements on social media, it has come to our attention that additional clarification of the term “Presumptive” in context of a “Presumptive Positive Coronavirus (COVID-19) Case” requires additional clarification.

At this time, any positive COVID-19 test result originating at the local or state level is classified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a “presumptive positive” case. Currently, presumptive positive cases must have the sample undergo confirmatory testing at the CDC.

It is without hesitation that Matagorda County Hospital District (MCHD) medical and administrative officials agree that it is appropriate, responsible, and necessary to publicly report presumptive positive cases. Presumptive positive cases are actionable and trigger epidemiological investigations. According to expert advice from MCHD’s lead health official partner in Houston, at this time, “not one presumptive positive case” has been “overturned or reversed by the CDC.” In fact, the CDC itself consolidates state presumptive positive reports and includes them with CDC-confirmed test results for national public disclosure.

MCHD encourages all within our community who read a “presumptive positive” disclosure to be aware that local, state, and federal health officials, including the CDC, collectively take action on investigating and publicly reporting presumptive positive cases.

When asked about the public disclosure and actionability of presumptive positive cases, Aaron Fox, MCHD’s Public Information Officer, said “If you visit the Texas Department of State Health Services’ COVID-19 website right now, you will see a list of Texas COVID-19 cases by county. Matagorda County is represented by name on this list and is identified as having one COVID-19 case. This presumptive positive case has been reported to, and then reported by, the State. Releasing that information to our community was the right thing to do. It is still the right thing to do, and it is what we will continue to do in the future if other presumptive positive cases are identified.”

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UPDATE 3/16/2020 at 1:52pm: We can now confirm that the CDC is no longer conducting confirmatory testing on presumptive positive results. MCHD health officials and care teams will continue to take appropriate public health action on positive results.

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