CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Nevada health officials as of Monday are counting results from rapid antigen tests in the coronavirus data that they present to the public and use to determine whether the pandemic is prevalent enough to trigger mask and capacity mandates.
The state updated its health response dashboard, adding more than 600,000 tests to its count. The dashboard started displaying “cumulative tests” on its testing page and divides the new infections into “confirmed cases” and “probable cases” on its page that reports total cases.
Unlike the traditional molecular tests that are considered more accurate, antigen tests detect viral proteins rather than the virus itself. They can return results in about 15 minutes instead of days. Rapid tests have become increasingly common throughout the United States, particularly in high-risk settings like nursing homes, schools or prisons.
Nevada’s updated tally counts molecular tests as confirmed cases and rapid tests reported to the state as probable cases.
State health officials said the fact that the tests are now being used more commonly prompted them to change their data reporting practices.
In February, CNN reported that five states including Nevada only reported publicly reported confirmed cases from molecular tests, contrary to guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. All but Maryland now report both confirmed cases from molecular tests and probable cases from rapid tests.
“Probable cases will provide the state with a more comprehensive picture of COVID-19,” Nevada health officials said in a statement.