BEAUFORT – Numbers don’t lie, the phrase goes, but the ‘numbers’ have always been a point of contention when it comes to the coronavirus Pandemic Panic. People killed in car accidents, who also tested positive of coronavirus, are counted as COVID-19 deaths; people admitted to hospitals for elective surgery, who then test positive for coronavirus, are counted as a COVID hospitalization; and testing errors and presumptions have arguably inflated confirmed case counts.
The latter is affecting the ‘numbers’ in Carteret and Craven Counties (and likely many more), according to this report from eastern North Carolina’s WITN:
“Both Craven and Carteret Counties are reporting lab errors with COVID-19 tests.
The Craven County Health Department was notified on Friday that one of their contract labs identified errors within their testing process for COVID-19. These errors included four cases that were reported as positive to the Craven County Health Department on July 15. They say these cases cannot be confirmed as positive and have removed from the case count.
The four individuals are being retested for COVID-19.
Craven County currently has 491 positive cases.
Carteret County has 177 cases.
The Carteret County Health Department says it was also notified today that a reference lab, not affiliated with Carteret County Health Department or Carteret Health Care, identified errors within their testing process for COVID-19.
These errors included six cases that were reported as positive to the Carteret County Health Department this week.
The health department says These cases cannot be confirmed as positive and have been removed from the case count.
The six individuals have been contacted about the errors and will be given the opportunity to re-test in consultation with their healthcare provider.”
Critics were quick to jump on the Trump administration for not rolling out coronavirus testing more expeditiously, but that narrative conveniently ignores the fact that initial testing kits had an unacceptable rate of false positives and false negatives that made it, not only unreliable, but irresponsible to deploy. (Even the new, more reliable tests had to be redesigned for market use, adding to the delays.)
The examples from Craven and Carteret Counties show why ‘the numbers’ warrant context, and perhaps skepticism, especially when those numbers are used to justify shutting down your business or mandating you wear a mask in public.