Since late in the summer, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert and Director of the National Institutes of Health, has been warning the country of the importance of keeping the coronavirus infection rate at a minimum before the fall and winter months. Why? Once the temperatures drop, people tend to head indoors, offering the highly infectious virus the perfect environment to spread. Now, just less than a month into the fall season, his predictions are coming true. During an event hosted by the College of American Pathologists on Tuesday, Dr. Fauci revealed that one key metric in predicting future infections is on the rise—and sooner rather than later the death toll will follow. Read on, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.
"We're Seeing an Uptick"
Dr. Fauci explained that coronavirus test positivity is increasing in many parts of the country—specifically the Midwest, upper Northwest, and states above the Sunbelt—which is a grim sign of what is to come.
"We're seeing an uptick in what's called test positivity – namely, the percentage of tests that you do in a community surveillance that turn out to be positive," he revealed. "You'd like to see them less than 3%, optimally 1% or less."
"The higher the percent positive is, the more concerning it is," Johns Hopkins University explains on their website. "As a rule of thumb, however, one threshold for the percent positive being 'too high' is 5%."
Ultimately, the number of positive tests is followed by other, devastating surges. Currently, 25 states are reporting rising positivity rates for two consecutive weeks and a whopping 31 have percent positivity rates over 5%.
Idaho Has the Highest Positivity Rate
Idaho currently boasts the highest positivity rate in the country with 22.9%, while South Dakota and Wisconsin are close behind with rates above 20%.
"We're starting to see a number of states well above that, which is often – in fact, invariably – highly predictive of a resurgence of cases, which historically we know leads to an increase in hospitalizations and then ultimately an increase in deaths," he said.
In August, Dr. Fauci explained to Dr. Ashish Jha and the Brown School of Public Health that Dr. Deborah Birx, also on the White House Coronavirus Task Force, had been paying close attention to how the positivity rate could be turned around.
"She went back and started analyzing, and she found out that if you really look carefully, when you have a percent positive that clicks up even a couple of percentage points, it almost never turns around spontaneously, unless you do something different than you're doing," he said, explaining that surges usually could be linked back to changes in the positivity rate from two weeks prior."
"So when you see that little tick going up, that means that you were doing something not particularly good. So what you need to do is to change what you're doing," he added. And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.