County officials say virus activity higher than lab-reported cases

Posted at 7:03 PM, Feb 03, 2022

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continues to trend downwards in San Diego county.

More than 3,200 new cases were reported Thursday along with 22 new deaths. However, county officials said the virus' spread is likely a lot higher than what the numbers show since reported cases only make up a portion of the actual cases in the region.

"The official numbers are a good indication of the pattern, but the absolute number is almost certainly higher," said Dr. Rebecca Fielding-Miller, Assistant Professor at the University of California San Diego School of Public Health.

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In the past week, 29,508 lab-confirmed cases were reported in San Diego County, which is half of the 60,548 lab-confirmed infections reported the week prior.

"A lot of that probably is because of home tests [and] a lot of it is because it was probably hard to find any kind of test," said Fielding-Miller.

Over the past month, at-home tests have become increasingly available to households.

Dr. Abi Olulade with Sharp Rees-Stealy said positive at-home test results aren't included in the county's case numbers. She said that's because at-home tests aren't as verifiable as PCR lab tests.

"These tests are very varied. They come from a lot of places. They may be doing it places that aren't necessarily certified," said Olulade.

Fielding-Miller said there are also some people who may not get tested at all even if they have symptoms.

"There are a lot of people who just felt bad never managed to make an appointment, never even managed to get a home test," said Fielding-Miller.

Fielding-Miller said the county and state are working on a way for people to officially report at-home tests results.

In the meantime, health experts said people should remain vigilant. While the virus' spread is slowing down, positivity rates remain high.

"There’s still almost three times as much as what we had in December, which is extremely high," Olulade said. "We’re in the red, we’re in the high transmission level still."

Olulade and Fielding-Miller said you should still contact your local health provider if your at-home test result is positive, especially if you have underlying health conditions.