The Washington State Department of Health this week announced COVID-19 testing data will soon be reported using the total number of tests completed. This is a change from the current reporting, which reflects the total number of unique individuals ever tested.

For example, someone who has a negative COVID-19 test result in May then another negative result in July would only be counted once in the current reporting approach. The most recent test would not be included. That means testing data does not fully reflect the actual testing volume or the current test positive rate, since only the first negative result for each person is included.

“This new approach will give us the most complete and current picture of the actual amount of COVID-19 testing happening in our state,” said Secretary of Health John Wiesman. “This also becomes important when comparing Washington state to other states.”

The state said in a press release that during the transition, the COVID-19 testing dashboards will not be updated and will show preliminary data through August 10 using the old methodology. “We estimate this will take at least one week.”