Virginia Officials Warn Coronavirus Numbers May Miss Cases Diagnosed by Doctors

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Virginia officials are warning the state may have more coronavirus cases than those reported in official health department numbers due to a long-reported shortfall in testing.

More than 6,800 patients have tested positive and are included in the state's reported number of cases.

But not every sick person may get a test amid shortages. In many cases, a doctor makes what's called a clinical diagnosis. That's when a patient has all the classic symptoms but can't get tested. The patient is sent home to self-quarantine.

Virginia is beginning to collect data on such diagnoses.

"We have encouraged providers to report clinical diagnoses," said Virginia Deputy Health Commissioner Laurie Forlano. "So we're collecting the information."

A new coronavirus testing site has opened in Woodbridge, and patients do not need a medical referral to obtain a test here. News4's Justin Finch Reports

Forlano said her understanding is that a national case definition for suspected cases has not yet been established. She said that clinical diagnosis case data can be released publicly once such a definition is created.

Virginia has tested 46,444 patients for coronavirus, according to state data released Thursday. That would represent about 0.5% of the state's 8.5 million residents.

Coronavirus Cases in DC, Maryland and Virginia

COVID-19 cases by population in D.C. and by county in Maryland and Virginia

Source: DC, MD and VA Health Departments
Credit: Anisa Holmes / NBC Washington

As of Thursday in the greater Washington region, Maryland reports it has tested 58,843 people out of about 6,045,680 residents, about 0.9% and Washington, D.C., reports it tested 12,150 people out of about 702,455 residents, a 1.7% rate.

Experts disagree on how much testing is needed before the coronavirus pandemic is more under control, but some larger national estimates say 2-8% of the population would be adequate, NBC News reported.

The CDC will work with all jurisdictions to ensure the public health infrastructure is available for more testing, Director Robert Redfield said Friday morning on "Today." Redfield said the agency is increasing the surveillance system across the country to identify asymptomatic and symptomatic infections.

Redfield also called for continued vigilance on social distancing.

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