PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE - Adding “probable” COVID-19 cases and deaths to daily totals of the ongoing pandemic has drawn the ire of critics, including President Donald Trump. But public health officials and epidemiology and infectious disease experts say using probable cases is a long-established scientific way to fully understand the impact of a disease outbreak, better respond to the disease’s impacts, and is an acknowledgment that not everyone who is infected in an outbreak will be tested....
By counting probable cases and deaths, and not just confirmed ones, “the overall sensitivity of the surveillance system is enhanced,” said Dr. Catherine Haggerty, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health. “Basically by casting a wider net, you catch more cases. And it gives us a greater understanding of the full impact” of the disease on the community.
Though she normally researches health disparities among reproductive-aged women and their children, Dr. Haggerty was one of many epidemiologists and medical students who were asked in mid-March to help do contact tracing in Allegheny County. She has spent entire days calling lists of people who might have had contact with a person with a positive COVID-19 case.Dr. Catherine Haggerty, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh. After she makes an assessment of each possible contact, she said she gives the information she collects to the county, which uses an algorithm to help determine if a contact should be considered a probable case.
It can be an exhausting job, she said, “but it’s very rewarding.”
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Using 'probable' COVID-19 cases and deaths in data helps response, experts say by Sean D. Hamill, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette