COVID-19 testing data shows high recovery rate, weekly increase in testing

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Champaign-Urbana Public Health District

Champaign County had conducted more than 33,000 COVID-19 tests by the end of June, according to data from the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District.

A review of the data saw the number of daily tests increasing dramatically while showing that Champaign County has had a relatively low positive rate (2.5%) with 723 cases out of 29,508 tests (May to June).

It also showed a high “recovered” rate, but the term “recovered’ can be misleading. In Illinois, the definition of recovered means that an infected person has not died within 42 days of being diagnosed.  The rate was 93 percent (May to June).

The public health department director, Julie Pryde, has acknowledged in recent emails that a person who is considered “recovered” could still be in rehabilitation from the virus or even continue to suffer symptoms. Pryde also said “recovered” isn’t exactly what the word means, and the long-term deaths from COVID-19 have not been recorded yet.

“‘Recovered’ on our FB page & reporting just means that the person is no longer infectious, and no longer in isolation, and if relevant no longer hospitalized,” Pryde said in an email. “It does not mean, necessarily, that they are feeling better. There have been many reports of people having symptoms like shortness of breath, lung scarring, amputations, young woman in Chicago had a double lung transplant, etc.”

Pryde also said reports on the long-term effects of the virus will come out when there is more information: “Public Health is not following-up on the morbidity, just the mortality… It is likely that some people will have a lifelong disability from their infections.”

By July 8, Champaign had a total of 980 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 822 cases recovered, 131 active cases, and 17 deaths, according to the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District. The state health department reported 992 confirmed cases in Champaign County.

Testing

Data from initial reports released by the Champaign-Urbana Public Health Department show a dramatic daily increase in the number of COVID-19 tests. Of tests conducted each day from May 2 till June 3 about 39% (11,394) were in May. The remaining 61% (18,114) were conducted in June – almost a 58% increase in testing. (By July 8, 40,447 tests had been performed which was an increase of about 7,000 tests, or 23 percent in 8 days.)

On average, about 509 tests were conducted daily in both May and June. A 7-day testing average shows the lowest number of tests per week at 187 tests in the first week of May and a peak of 856 tests in the last week of June.


Figure 1


Figure 2

Cases and Recoveries


Figure 3

With testing more widespread, Champaign County’s weekly records illustrate a positive recovered pattern per the number of confirmed cases. The first two weeks of May saw new COVID cases outnumber recoveries. The following three weeks recorded a different pattern than usual – total recoveries continued to outnumber new cases in a row (May 22 to June 11). The trend, however, changed back the rest of the month with new cases outnumbering recoveries.

Weekly cases peaked at 164 (May 15-21) as compared to 171 (May 22-28) when recoveries peaked. (The county announced 90 new cases for the time period of July 2 – July 8, 2020.) For a better glimpse of trends of cases and recoveries, a ratio of COVID cases/tests compared to a rate of recoveries/cases shows a positive picture of the county’s COVID-19 situation.


Figure 4

The trends (Figure 4) illustrate a downward trajectory of positive cases per test and a slight upward recovery trajectory per positive cases. 


Figure 5

Daily ratios of cases per test and recoveries per case showed similar trends (Figure 5). Recovered cases hit their peak towards the end of June.

Amidst the recent spikes, there are mixed reactions ranging from the need to to slow down reopening plans and reinstate lockdowns, to proceeding with returning to life-as-usual. 

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