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Health Care

As Florida's Positive COVID-19 Cases Increase, the Positivity Rate Remains Low

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AL DIAZ
/
Miami Herald

The number of positive COVID-19 test results in Florida has increased over the last week. Some days by well over 1,000 per day. On Tuesday, June 9, Florida had 66,000 positive cases — according to the Florida Department of Health.

The state's positivity rate has remained relatively low, however — in the single digits.

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The positivity rate tells us how many COVID-19 tests were given in a day, divided by how many people tested positive that day. On April 26, Florida's positivity rate was at 6.1 percent. It has fluctuated, but hasn't been that high since.

Bindu Mayi, a microbiology professor at Nova Southeastern University, says the rate's drop isn't surprising.

"Because of the lockdown measures because of the social isolation because of all the messages that we've been putting out there about prevention," Mayi said.

Cindy Prins, an epidemiology professor at the University of Florida, says what we don't know is who's getting tested. 

"Are we talking about people who are being tested because they have symptoms? Are we talking about people who are being tested because now all of sudden they have access, and they can go through the drive through testing, and find out whether or not they're positive, even though they don't have symptoms," she said.

It also matters whether these are positive tests coming from a high-risk population, like inmates in a prison. When more low-risk people in the general public get tested, though, they're likely to test negative, and that brings the positivity rate down.

Professor Mayi hopes people don't get too comfortable because of that number. 

"The virus is still there, the virus is still in circulation," she said, adding that wearing masks to properly cover one's nose and mouth, washing hands and standing six feet apart from others remain as important as ever.