It appears Texans have not been getting a clear picture of the percent of positive coronavirus tests in the state.
State health officials acknowledged they have been releasing inaccurate figures because they were combining the number of positive COVID-19 tests with the number of positive antibody tests.
The Department of State Health Services said, as of Wednesday, it counted nearly 50,000 antibody tests among the total number of tests. That adds up to more than 6% of the total tests reported through that time.
The antibody test only shows whether someone had COVID-19 in the past. It is not given to people who suspect they have an active case of the virus.
The department said it stopped combining the two different kinds of test results a few days ago.
Gov. Greg Abbott has said he looks at the rate of positive COVID-19 tests when determining when to relax restrictions on businesses and the economy. Having antibody tests as part of that number did lower it.
But the governor said the difference was small.
"If you look at the numbers, the numbers are these and that is a differential of less than one half of 1%. Here's some easy math, and that is according to the aggregate number both antibody tests as well as overall tests the positivity test rate on May 19 was 4.29%. If you eliminate the antibody tests from that, the positivity rate was 4.7%. So you can see it's about a half of a percentage point difference,” he said.
The governor said there was a period of time where the department could not separate the data as counties were submitting it.
Some health experts have strongly advised against combining the numbers, saying it does not give any insight into where the virus is currently spreading.
Many antibody tests have also been found to be highly inaccurate.
Texas is not the only state found to be combining the two types of tests together. A report found Pennsylvania, Georgia and Vermont also did the same.