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VERIFY: Are there more COVID-19 recoveries than active cases in PA?

There has been no official COVID-19 recovery numbers released in PA. Can we just do the math to find the numbers? We verify.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Every day, we give you the latest COVID-19 numbers from the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

That includes new cases, deaths, and people who have tested negative.

What it doesn't include is the number of people who have recovered from COVID-19.

 However, one state lawmaker says more people have recovered from COVID-19 than currently have the virus. 

FOX43 verifies that claim.


State Representative Seth Grove of York County says you can figure out Pennsylvania's COVID-19 recoveries with a simple math equation.

Grove says the equation is estimated recoveries = total cases - (total cases from 14 days prior + total deaths for that day).

He posted this graph on social media to show his work.

Many of you have asked for recovery data. Well PA DOH does collect it so I took a crack at it. And since I believe in showing my work so we all have a good explanation of the data: Estimated...

"I am fully certain there are more recoveries in Pennsylvania than active cases. we are past that point of the peak, it has flattened and our hospitals aren't overwhelmed," said Rep. Grove.

Meanwhile, we have asked the state department of health several times if it's tracking COVID-19 recoveries.

On April 21st, we were told: "At this time we do not have recovery data, but we will be working to determine how we can receive that data in the future."

After representative Grove posted his math, we asked again and we asked if his math was right. 

This week, the department of health sent us this: "Nationwide, there has been work to calculate recoveries, but it is not as simple as looking solely at the number of cases from 14 days prior. We are working to determine how we can provide this data in a uniform manner to the public, and the media."

The on April 30th, State Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said during a news conference, "Now you can do the math in terms of the numbers of patients and you can go back over our statistics, go back 14 days and they should be better, but we don't know that and we want to make sure we're giving you validated information on a regular basis so we're not making any types of guesses."

FOX43 also reached out to a local professor about the equation. J Robert Buchanan, a mathematics professor at Millersville University says he doesn't think Rep. Grove's equation gives us an accurate picture.

"The time from the onset of symptoms, to death, if death occurs, is anywhere from 2-8 weeks. so if you`re trying to calculate the number of recoveries, you need 8 weeks essentially to make sure that a person recovers."

Friends, grab your paper and pencil because you're about to take a math lesson. A Millersville University professor explains the equations he thinks could be the best ways to determine the number of COVID-19 recoveries. I'll verify the claims that there are more COVID-19 recoveries than active cases in the state tonight on WPMT FOX43.

Posted by Jackie De Tore on Thursday, April 30, 2020

Rep. Grove says he is open to supplying his math and doing things better. 

FOX43 did reach out to all of the hospitals in our area and yes, some of them are tracking recoveries.

That doesn't give the entire picture though because not every person who tests positive for COVID-19 needs to be treated at a hospital. 

We also know recoveries are happening outside of the hospital because we've talked to people on FOX43 who say they have recovered.

Can we verify if there are more recoveries than active cases of COVID-19 in PA?

Right now, until we get widespread testing and more data, the answer is not clear. 

Although we do know that people are in fact recovering.

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Johns Hopkins University has been tracking recovered COVID-19 cases during the pandemic.

According to the university, worldwide more than a million people have recovered and more than 125,000 have recovered in the US.

Johns Hopkins says it reports that data, outside of China, based on local media reports and state and local reporting when it is available.

Hopkins experts say therefore the number of reported recoveries may be higher.

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