Data expert says at-home testing kits may be skewing full picture of COVID-19 cases

Virus Outbreak Testing Data
Posted at 7:43 AM, Sep 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-14 14:03:50-04

PHOENIX — A look at Arizona’s daily COVID-19 case count over the past week would indicate we may be heading towards a plateau. But it may be too early to breathe a sigh of relief, especially with other factors now at play.

ABC15 data analyst Garrett Archer said, moving forward, we may not get accurate data when it comes to cases because of the availability of at-home testing kits, which are not recorded on the state’s dashboard.

“If more people that are symptomatic are getting tested at home and not going to get a diagnostic test from a lab, then we wouldn't know about those cases,” Archer said. “That's definitely a factor here. We might be seeing a leveling off simply because we are missing an entire group of people that are now choosing to get tested at home.”

Google trends also showed there has been a spike in searches for at-home testing kits across Arizona.

New forecasting models from Arizona State University showed a plateau might not be likely for two reasons.

For one, the delta variant is highly transmissible. It makes up nearly all COVID-19 cases right now.

Also, immunity from vaccines may be going down over time, especially in people who got vaccinated in January and February.