Study Shows Early Number of Bay Area Virus Cases Was Far Underreported: Report

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As many Bay Area counties continue to tighten restrictions because of recent spikes in coronavirus cases, researchers now say data from early in the pandemic supports the belief that the number of infections was about 10 times what was being reported.

A new study using information from antibody blood tests taken in the spring shows that testing at the beginning of the outbreak may have not provided the most accurate results, according to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in March, April and May conducted antibody testing in 10 major U.S. regions, including the Bay Area. The samples revealed the original estimate of 7,000 Bay Area cases at the end of April was far short of the actual number of cases, which was closer to 65,000, the newspaper reported.

The study explains COVID-19 testing done at the beginning of the pandemic was not entirely accurate in identifying many positive cases, but aggressive shelter-in-place orders in the Bay Area may have helped slow the spread of the virus.

NBC medical correspondent Dr. John Torres said the new findings mean the reported death rate during those months and overall is a lot lower.

The CDC study also shows that many of the people infected that were asymptomatic or those who did not get medical care played a role in spread of the virus, unknowingly infecting others in their own communities.

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