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What are the criteria for determining a COVID-19 case?

There are a few different criteria for how we officially determine a case of COVID-19: Lab criteria and clinical criteria.

Lab criteria is split between Confirmatory laboratory evidence, presumptive* laboratory evidence and supportive laboratory evidence.

  • Confirmatory laboratory evidence: Detection of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 ribonucleic acid (SARS-CoV-2 RNA). Ribonucleic acid (RNA) is a form of genetic material carried by the virus (like DNA) but is single stranded. This test is performed using a molecular amplification test, also known as a PCR test. See more about the types of tests available on ASM.
  • Presumptive laboratory evidence: Detection of SARS-CoV-2 by antigen test (see antigen test definition) in a respiratory specimen
  • Supportive laboratory evidence: Detection of specific antibody (see antibody test definition) in serum, plasma, or whole blood. Detection of specific antigen in an autopsy specimen.

Clinical Criteria is determined in absence of more specific testing results. More can be found on the CDC website.