NEW JERSEY – Day after day, federal and state officials consistently report numbers when it comes to COVID-19. Reports boil down to two basic pieces of data. One set of figures tallies the number of confirmed cases. The other paints a more gruesome picture of the death toll. Meanwhile, no one seems to be talking about recovery numbers.
Yesterday, Dr. Christina Tan, New Jersey State Epidemiologist, explained the logic in excluding how many people have recovered after testing positive for the disease. As it turns out, it boils down to coming up with a suitable definition – of recovery, that is.
“The definition of recovery is actually a very squishy term in general,” shared Tan. “There isn’t a case definition for recovered, and that’s actually something the CDC might be looking to standardize.”
Tan acknowledged that the CDC has guidelines concerning when it’s appropriate to discontinue isolation using different strategies. According to the CDC, one option is a non-test strategy, while the other calls for two negative test swabs.
“The two strategies are more for the purpose of releasing individuals from a healthcare facility,” Tan stated.
In the meantime, the CDC guidelines also speak to home isolation. Just a few days ago, the CDC said that home isolation could be discontinued if: “At least 3 days (72 hours) have passed since recovery defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and Improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); and, At least 7 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.”
Remarkably, the words “since recovery defined.,” no longer appear in the CDC guidelines in their current form. While New Jersey and the feds struggle with a clear cut definition for recovery, another state has established one.
In Michigan, the government has decided that “recovered is defined as the number of persons with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis who are alive 30 days post-onset (or referral date if onset is not available).”
One thing is certain. Recovery numbers are not confirmed cases minus related deaths. It looks like the CDC and the state need to come up with a definition – one that makes sense.