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Health experts attribute new COVID-19 cases in Bay County to antigen tests

Bay County recorded more than 170 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, but local health officials say there's a reason for that big number.
Bay County recorded more than 170 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, but local health officials say there's a reason for that big number.(Jarell Baker)
Published: Jul. 3, 2020 at 12:48 AM CDT
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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) -

Bay County now has more than 580 confirmed cases of COVID-19, which is 173 more cases than Wednesday.

Local health officials says 54 of those 173 cases are positive cases that were confirmed Thursday, and they say the rest of the cases are from a new method of coronavirus testing collected in June called antigen testing.

“We started incorporating the antigen test on May 21. It’s been FDA approved since we first purchased the antigen testing,” said PanCare of Florida Marketing Coordinator Ashley Kelley.

“It’s a rapid test that PanCare is using,” said Florida Department of Health in Bay County’s Public Information Officer Heather Kretzer, “We also have Doc Smiley’s in South Walton County that is testing some of our residents.”

Kretzer said they collected 118 probable cases from from antigen tests between June 4 through June 30 but counted them separately from confirmed cases.

“If you’re positive you’re positive for this test,” said Kelley. “If it shows up negative there’s still that slight chance that it could be a positive. That’s why we do the PCR and send it off to the lab for that additional confirmation of that.”

Now, the state has to decide to count the two types of cases together.

“The only cases that are considered confirm cases are those that are done by lab test, which are the ones that come back later on,” said Kretzer. “The antigen tests are still very good tests and they do detect positive cases. It’s just a difference in the type of test and how the state labels those because of the types of test.”

Bay County’s percent positive rate is 7 percent, which is less than the state average. Health officials say people need to be careful while they’re having fun this weekend and follow social distancing guidelines.

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