coronavirus

COVID-19 positives from a different type of diagnostic test will now be included in New Hampshire’s case counts, state health officials have announced. Along with new positive tests reported Friday, this change has adjusted the state’s total number of cases confirmed to date upward to 8,534. This is up 217 over Thursday’s reported total of 8,317.

“We had previously reported only positive cases confirmed by a PCR test, per national guidance, with antigen positives considered suspect cases of COVID-19,” N.H. Department of Health and Human Services spokesman Jake Leon explained in an email Friday evening. “With the State’s decision to now report positive antigen tests, that adjusted all data including hospitalizations and deaths, not just cases.”

The national criteria haven’t changed, the health department noted in a news release, but the state’s decision to include positive antigen tests in its reporting reflects the tests’ increasing use statewide.

In contrast to polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, which look for the virus’ genetic material, antigen tests (also done by a nasal or throat swab) detect specific proteins in the virus, according to the Mayo Clinic. Both are different from an antibody test, which detects the immune response indicative of a probable past infection.

New Hampshire’s new confirmed case total includes 99 positives announced Friday. Nineteen of those were positive antigen tests, and 22 were from PCR tests whose reporting had been delayed.

None of the 99 cases were from Cheshire or Sullivan counties. Twenty-three were from parts of Hillsborough County outside Manchester and Nashua.

The number of Granite Staters whose deaths have been reported as COVID-19-related is now 442, with the inclusion of a Rockingham County woman 60 or older who died the first week of September.

Of the 8,534 total cases reported Friday, 89 percent have recovered. As of Friday morning, 20 people were in hospitals, of the 743 people known to have been hospitalized at some point during the pandemic.

A total of 456 cases in New Hampshire were considered current.