State data will now include probable COVID-19 cases and deaths, Levine says

    Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine briefs the press on Saturday, 4/11/20 (Screen Capture)

    As of Tuesday, Pennsylvania’s daily COVID-19 data will include probable cases and probable deaths from the disease, according to state Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine.

    “This is part of the work of our epidemiologist,” Levine said. “This is how they usually report infectious illnesses.”

    Levine said it was adopted now because “It just takes time … to do this reporting.”

    The department was already reporting confirmed cases, or someone who tested positive for the disease. A probable case means an individual displaying COVID-19 symptoms —such as fever, coughing and shortness of breath — who was in close contact with a known case, but has not taken a test. 

    The agency also already reports confirmed fatalities of people who died and tested positive for the illness. 

    The state will now report probable deaths, which occurs when an individual’s death certificate lists COVID-19 as a cause or contributing cause of death, even if they never took a test to confirm the diagnosis.

    On Tuesday, for example, Levine said that of 1,298 new cases, 981 were confirmed and 315 probable cases.

    Over the weekend, the department added 276 new deaths to the state’s running total, as the health department reconciled different reporting systems used by individual counties. 

    Pa. Health Secretary Levine reports significant COVID-19 death increase as result of data reconciliation efforts

    Of the 1,564 people who have died in the state from COVID-19, 1,264 were confirmed, and 300 were probable deaths as of Tuesday, Levine said.

    Despite all of this, Levine said she was still “very confident in our data.”