A blog answering common questions about SARS-CoV-2 (aka Coronavirus) and the disease it causes, COVID-19. I'll be focusing on questions that I have personally had difficulty finding the answer to.
Disclaimer: The COVID-19 pandemic changes rapidly. I can only guarantee correct information at the time of publication, though I will try to keep things up-to-date. If you need medical advice please contact your medical provider.
There are a few different types of tests for COVID-19. Currently the most common is a PCR test, which detects genetic material from the virus. PCR tests are great because they are highly specific - they have a very low rate of false positives. If the test is positive, you can be certain you have COVID-19. But the test only works on patients who are sick and still have the virus in their body. What if you want to know if someone had COVID-19 in the past? That's where antibody tests (also known as serology) comes in.
A blog post gaining traction in Oregon was brought to my attention. The post makes some dangerous claims, and argues that Oregon should be reopened. I understand the desire to reopen as soon as possible, but the claims made in the post are wrong and dangerous - read below to understand why.
Where are we in the cycle of the disease?
"Professor Hinkley", the author of the post (I'm not providing a link because I don't want to spread false information) claims that the number of hospitalizations from COVID-19 began decreasing before the lockdown began. To support his claim, he annotates a graph published by the Oregon Health Authority on April 5th:
The biggest problem with Hinkley's analysis is the annotation he wrote over in his graph (and I have circled below): as of April 4th, illnesses between 3/25 and 4/4 may not be reported yet.
Hinkley says the number of cases started to decline even before Oregon implemented "Shelter In Place" on March 23rd. At firs…