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Whenever I do my personal budget at the beginning of the month, I always make the list of what is going in and what is coming out to see what I have to work with for the month.

Before I do the subtracting, I always round down a hundred dollars plus five percent of what the original number was. The reason is that it’s always good to have more than you think you have in case something goes wrong.

I told you all that to illustrate the point of it being a perfectly acceptable thing to do. That being said, if it something like the number of people infected with COVID, then we are getting into very dangerous ground.

If you’re going to count someone among those who’ve tested positive for COVID-19, it helps if he’s been tested in the first place.

This goes without saying, one would think. However, the case of Brock Ballou shows how bureaucratic sloppiness has infected our COVID-19 response.

According to WSMV-TV in Nashville, Ballou — a Mt. Juliet, Tennessee resident — knew he was potentially at risk for infection by the coronavirus. One of his co-workers had it and he was expecting a call from a contact tracer.

What he wasn’t expecting is that the contact tracers would be telling him he was listed as having COVID-19 — without being tested.

Check out the WSMV report below:

“She specifically said – I’m looking at it right here – you tested positive – this is a follow-up call to see how your symptoms are,” Ballou told WSMV.

All right, so that’s one call, right? Well, it wasn’t just that.

There were two more days of calls, Ballou said, both with similar messages.

“[The contact tracer] said, ‘I’m still seeing that you’re positive. Courtesy call – checking your symptoms,’” Ballou said.

Was this a case of mishearing the person on the other end of the line?

“I’m 100 percent sure that’s what she said,” Ballou said.

“She was looking right at it; she told me I’m in the system – looking right at it that you’re showing positive.”

Ballou’s problem is probably the same as yours, he wonders how he can trust the numbers coming out of the state if he’s being counted positive without actually taking a test. (Stories about inflated numbers of deaths being attributed to COVID-19 are becoming all too common.)

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