False-negative COVID-19 tests may contribute to rising numbers


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Receiving a negative COVID-19 test result is a relief, but infectious disease doctor with Vanderbilt University Medical Center, David Aronoff, said it’s not a free pass.

“What we’re having some issues with is not all negative tests mean that we’re uninfected,” said Dr. Aronoff.

He warned there’s a pretty significant risk of a false-negative test particularly in the early stages of infection. “What we know is after infection, between days 5-10…that’s where the risk of a false-negative test is at its lowest.”

Even still, Dr. Aronoff said many at that point are still asymptomatic. Some in the medical field believe negative COVID-19 test results give people a false sense of security.

“It’s when people are getting together, particularly if we let our guard down, and we don’t pay attention to the distance between ourselves and other people. When we are not wearing face masks or face coverings which we know help, those kinds of things can make it even easier for transmission events to occur,” Aronoff explained.

And, as of October 19, transmission rates in Davidson County are currently sitting at an unsatisfactory 1.16 rate when the goal is less than one.

“Once it gets above one, that means on average, every infected person is spreading it to more than one person which really is the kind of situation that continues the pandemic on its way.”

The number of new cases per 100,000 residents is also up significantly from the goal of less than ten.
Monday’s rate was nearly 30. Dr. Aronoff hopes people take notice and make smart decisions.

“The best thing I can say is, don’t use a negative test to stop doing the things that protect others from spreading COVID-19.”

COVID-19 in Tennessee

(This reflects what the TDH reports each day. )

Stay with News 2 for continuing coverage of the COVID-19 Pandemic.


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