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Coronavirus: What does a 'presumptive positive' case of COVID-19 mean?

The Center for Disease Control has three levels to classify a potential cases of COVID-19.

AUSTIN, Texas — As news broke early Friday morning that two "presumptive positive" coronavirus cases in Austin-Travis County were confirmed by Austin Public Health (APH), many viewers have asked about what the term presumptive positive actually means.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), a presumptive positive result is when a patient has tested positive by a local public health laboratory, but when those results are still pending confirmation at a CDC lab.

The CDC has three levels to classify a potential case of COVID-19:

  1. Person Under Investigation (PUI): Any person who is under investigation for having the virus that causes COVID-19, or who was under investigation but tested negative for the virus.
  2. Presumptive Positive case of COVID-19: Anyone who has tested positive for the virus, but testing was conducted at the local or state level. Currently, presumptive positive cases must have sample undergo confirmatory testing at the CDC.
  3. Laboratory-confirmed case of COVID-19: Anyone who has tested positive for the virus at the CDC laboratory. 

Coronavirus cases reported to the CDC include both CDC-confirmed cases and presumptive positive cases reported by the states. The CDC updates its numbers on the total presumptive and confirmed cases Monday through Friday at noon. Each update is based on all state reports received by 4 p.m. the previous day. 

WATCH: Coronavirus testing in Austin


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