Several states are reporting only positive COVID-19 test results from private labs, a practice that paints a misleading picture of how fast the disease is spreading.

Maryland, Ohio and others are posting the numbers of new positive tests and deaths, for instance, but don’t report the negative results, which would help show how many people were tested overall.

“This matters because it gives you a false sense of what is going on in a particular location,” said Dr. Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute. He said states should be required to report both positive and negative results for review by public health experts.

“They should all be pulled together,” Topol said. “It should be automatic.”

Many states display a more comprehensive

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