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Health officials: Recent southern Vt. COVID cases likely false positives

Published: Jul. 17, 2020 at 3:37 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 17, 2020 at 7:55 PM EDT
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - The majority of suspected COVID-19 cases from southern Vermont were likely false positives-- that was the word Friday from Vermont’s health commissioner.

As of Thursday night, the state had gotten PCR test results from 17 of the 59 people who tested positive through antigen testing at the Manchester Medical Center. Of those 17, only two had their cases confirmed by lab testing. The other 15 came back negative.

Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine said while the rapid-result antigen tests can be useful for screening patients, health experts don't recommend them for people who are asymptomatic.

"Studies on antigen tests have only been done on people with symptoms. We don't have evidence of the accuracy of antigen tests on people without symptoms. It might turn out to be a great test for everyone, but we just don't know," Levine said.

Levine said he’s only aware of two places in Vermont doing antigen tests: Manchester Medical Center and Garnet Transport Medicine, which we told you about on Thursday. They’re offering antigen testing to businesses to help them screen their workers. Friday, Levine said that “probably would not be the best use of that test” because employees likely won’t go to work if they’re showing symptoms.

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