Why reporting the number of recoveries from coronavirus is difficult

ATLANTA — We’ve been getting lots of questions as to why we haven’t been reporting the number of recoveries by people who have contracted coronavirus.

The short answer: There really is no way to give an accurate answer.

Let us explain. The reason we have numbers of cases and deaths from the virus is because the state is releasing that information to everyone twice daily. They can only release basic information because of HIPPA laws, which is why, unless someone contacts us they have lost a loved one, we generally don’t have any more specific information about the victims of coronavirus.

You have heard health officials say many times throughout the last few weeks that if you think you have the symptoms of coronavirus, you should to isolate yourself and call your local health department.

Unless someone is admitted to a hospital and tested, there is no way of knowing if someone has a mild case of the virus and recovers from it. Not to mention if someone doesn’t report it at all.

Until the state or county health departments begin reporting the number of people they know about that have recovered from the virus, there is no way for us to report that information. Even then, it would likely not be accurate because of the number of people who do not get tested or report their symptoms.

John Hopkins University has made an online tool that shows a worldwide look at the number of cases of coronavirus, amount of deaths and using that information, estimates on the number of people that have recovered from it.

“Recovered cases outside China are country-level estimates based on local media reports and may be substantially lower than the true number,” John Hopkins University’s Douglas Donovan told CNN in a recent interview.

"The category for recoveries began when the outbreak was centered in China, which was issuing official reports on recoveries."

“The dashboard is not reporting estimates for state and county recoveries in the United States. That may change as more uniform reporting for recoveries expands among local and state governments,” he said. “Currently, there is no uniform method for reporting recoveries across the United States. If that changes, the dashboard will reflect those numbers accordingly.”

As we find out more about the people that have recovered from coronavirus, we will report on them as they become available.