Color's COVID-19 testing shows most who test positive had either mild or no symptoms

SAN MATEO, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 16: Medical personnel surround a car that is going through a coronavirus drive-thru test clinic at the San Mateo County Event Center on March 16, 2020 in San Mateo, California. Drive-thru test clinics for COVID-19 are popping up across the country as more tests become available. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
SAN MATEO, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 16: Medical personnel surround a car that is going through a coronavirus drive-thru test clinic at the San Mateo County Event Center on March 16, 2020 in San Mateo, California. Drive-thru test clinics for COVID-19 are popping up across the country as more tests become available. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Darrell Etherington

Echoing much of the existing data and research on the subject, SF-based Color released data today showing that based on its own testing program, most individuals who test positive for COVID-19 display either mild or no symptoms, including even running a fever. The results, taken from Color's own testing of over 30,000 people to date across its California testing stations, shows that despite continuing efforts underway across the U.S. to reopen local and state economies, widespread testing is still key to any true recovery program.

Color notes that 1.3% of the people who it has tested have received positive results for COVID-19, and says that among those, 78% reported only mild symptoms or said they were asymptomatic — meaning they displayed no observable symptoms whatsoever. What's more, only 12% had a fever  over 100 degrees, which is bad news for efforts to contain potential transmission of cases through measures like temperature checks at workplaces and shared use facilities.

Color's data matches up with recently released information from the WHO that indicated as many as 80% of individuals who test positive display either mild or no symptoms. Color also shared more specific information about what symptoms those who did report said they had, with most saying they had a cough — though the most highly correlated reported symptom with an actual positive test result is loss of smell, making it a much better indicator of a positive test result than fever, for instance.

Other notable findings from Color's testing, which includes testing San Francisco's frontline essential workers in partnership with the city, include that most of those who test positive are young (68% are between 18 and 40) and that Latinx and Black communities showed much higher positive results on a per capita basis than either white or Asian populations. Color's data in both these regards support results shared by other organizations and researchers, backing up concerns around who will be most negatively affected by any hasty and unconsidered reopening efforts.

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