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Michigan starts reporting COVID-19 antibody tests separately

Antibody tests are being used to learn how the virus spreads within a community.

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced Saturday that it would start reporting both standard diagnostic tests for COVID-19 and antibody tests. 

The state's data now separates the testing numbers into serology and diagnostic. Serology testing, also known as antibody testing, determines if someone has ever had COVID-19 and a diagnostic test confirms an active disease. 

“Accuracy and transparency are paramount as we continue to respond to this pandemic,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health. “We continue to expand and improve data reporting to make sure the public understands where their community stands with the COVID-19 outbreak.”

See testing data here

The change in testing down not affect the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases within the state. But it does lower the percentage of positive tests over the last nine days, which is when antibody testing became more common. 

Michigan's current data shows 512,891 total tests--450,918 diagnostic tests and 61,973 serology tests. 

Diagnostic testing remains the most effective tool to fight the virus, since it shows who has COVID-19. Antibody tests are being used to learn how the virus spreads within a community. It is still unknown if an antibody means someone is immune to the virus or how long that immunity will last. 

The state emphasizes a positive antibody test should not be used to decide if someone should return to work or if they should quarantine because of exposure. 

As of Saturday, Michigan reports 54,365 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 5,223 deaths. 

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