Seven Bay Area governments Tuesday ordered all commercial and academic medical labs to begin expanding the kind of data they report from tests involving the novel coronavirus.
Public health officers in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, along with the city of Berkeley, now require the labs to report the results of all tests -- including those with negative and inconclusive results -- to the health care provider that ordered the test and to the appropriate state and local health officials.
Until now, those labs were only required to report positive test results for the virus, also known as COVID-19, which made it difficult for public health officials to know how many people were being tested overall, according to a news release announcing the order.
Also, labs now are required to report "information that allows health officials to better locate the person tested," according to the release.
"This order will ensure public health officials regionally and across the state have access to the information we need to understand, predict, and combat the spread of COVID-19," said Dr. Sara Cody, Santa Clara County's health officer.
"Expanding reporting beyond positive results to include timely reporting of negative and inconclusive results allows local health officials to better understand whether there are areas of the community that are experiencing more intense transmission and project future trends in in the spread of the virus," said Dr. Tomas Aragon, San Francisco's health officer.
Currently, there are 930 confirmed cases with 19 deaths in the seven jurisdictions that issued the order.
"This does not account for the rapidly increasing number of assumed cases of community transmission," according to the release.