Lincoln not tracking 'presumptive' positive cases

LINCOLN, Neb. -- There is a large number of possibly COVID-19 patients in Lincoln that will go unaccounted for.

Data on individuals who health care providers believe likely have COVID-19 but may not be tested is not being tracked, City of Lincoln officials said Tuesday.

After 10/11 NOW requested how many people are presumptive positive for the coronavirus, meaning doctors believe they are infected but may not be tested, the following response was sent from a city spokeswoman on behalf of the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department:

“According to State guidelines for COVID-19 testing, providers are to consider patients who have symptoms - and who tested negative for flu or other respiratory illness - as presumptive cases and be recommended for testing. Numbers are not available because providers are not tracking or reporting these presumptive cases. State and local health officials continue to track flu, respiratory illness and COVID-19 testing results for surveillance and monitoring.”

So far in Nebraska, Gage County, Buffalo County, and Saline County have reported cases of individuals who are presumed positive for COVID-19, but will not be tested since they do not fall into a high-risk category. The Saline county case involves a Doane University student, the two Buffalo County cases involve University of Nebraska-Kearney students, and few details are known about the Gage County case.

Local and state health officials have said due to a limited number of tests available, there will be individuals who are presumed positive, but not tested.

As of Tuesday night, Lincoln has two confirmed cases, 131 negative tests, and eight pending tests. So far, 188 people are being monitored due to travel history or possible exposure.