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Presumptive Positive: What does it mean?

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Posted at 2:28 PM, Mar 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-14 15:28:36-04

The number of presumptive positive cases of the novel coronavirus in Louisiana is continuing to grow. Governor John Bel Edwards confirmed Saturday afternoon that there are now 67 presumptive positive cases, with two confirmed by the CDC.

"Presumptive Positive," a term used by the Centers for Disease Control, means that a test administered by local health professionals is positive.

The Louisiana Department of Health explains that a 'presumptive positive' case is conducted by the State Lab in Baton Rouge, and 'presumptive' becomes 'confirmed' after the state's test is confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control.

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams explained in a March 12 press conference with the governor that the process of running a test can be lengthy. A patient's provider first has to obtain a sample, which is then transported to the state health lab in Baton Rouge. The transportation by a state courier can take several hours to a half a day. Running the test itself can take anywhere from 4-6 hours. He added that this process is not specific to Louisiana; across the country, it can take anywhere from 24-48 hours and sometimes longer, depending on various delays.

Once the test is confirmed by the state health lab in Baton Rouge, the sample is sent for final confirmation by the CDC lab in Atlanta.

You can watch that full press conference HERE.

"The specimen will be identified as 'presumptive positive' until the result is confirmed at CDC," which will then "update the person's disposition in CDC's electronic reporting system," explains the Centers' website.

State health labs have tested 178 individuals as of Saturday afternoon, according to Assistant State Public Health Officer Dr. Alex Billioux. Of those 178, 67 have been confirmed by the state lab, meaning they are considered 'presumptive positive.' Tests have been sent to the CDC, and as of Saturday, two have been given final confirmation by the CDC.

The state Department of Health has set up resources to help answer any questions about COVID-19. Louisiana citizens can also dial 211 24/7 or text "LACOVID" to 898-211 to find the latest information.