A rise in at-home COVID tests, means a drop in available data

Testing in Washington state is down – at least, the testing that’s being tracked on the state’s COVID-19 dashboard is.

As more people turn to at-home testing, it’s becoming harder and harder for health experts to keep surveillance on COVID-19 and how it’s moving.

In fact, doctors at the Washington Department of Health admitted as much in late March.

"We do get less of a look," said Dr. Shah, the state’s Secretary of Health, "but we’re also relying on additional data pieces that help us make decisions and/or monitor what’s happening in our state."

According to Dr. Shah, the state is looking more at hospitalizations and death statistics. It’s a similar message to what the C.D.C has offered up in recent months – as less and less data was coming in. Arizona, Hawaii, Nevada and Ohio don’t even report daily data anymore.

The changes create blind-spots in terms of surveillance.

Washingtonians can now order monthly at-home COVID tests

The Washington State Department of Health announced that Washingtonians will be able to order additional at-home COVID tests monthly.

A growing number of doctors have raised concerns about how to best track how COVID-19 is changing with fewer test results becoming publicly available. 

There has been larger discussions about sewage surveillance, essentially tracking virus in sewer systems as opposed to tracking individual tests. Scientists at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas even detected omicron in local sewers before it was detected in a person with a traditional test back in December.

"In the simplest sense, everybody poops, and so we get that information regardless if they’re going out and getting those clinical tests," Dr. Daniel Gerrity, a principal research lab scientist with Southern Nevada’s Water Authority told Fox News.

As for individuals, the ability to test at-home or in-person has less to do about the overall data picture – and more to do with personal preference.

"When it first started we went and got some testing at the pharmacy," said Joe Nichols. "Since then, we went on the government site and got the two free at-home tests. So, we’ve got those if we need them – but we haven’t had any symptoms."

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