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Boone County positivity rate remains high while cases of COVID-19 fall

Health experts say they track trends in positivity rates, not just daily totals
Published: Jan. 27, 2021 at 6:10 PM CST
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Boone County health leaders try to ease concerns over high COVID-19 positivity rates as the rest of the state line sees a drop in their rates.

“The kids went back to school a week ago, yet there’s still a positivity rate,” said Rebecca Utley.

Before Rebecca Utley sends her kids to school every morning, she checks the Boone County Health Department’s Facebook page, searching for the latest update on COVID-19 numbers. When there were zero, new cases reported Wednesday, she was shocked by the positivity rate, which sits at about 10%.

“Now I understand, there could still be a positivity rate, yet we’re not getting new cases,” said Utley. “It just doesn’t make sense to me.”

Many others took to Facebook with similar questions. Boone County Public Health Administrator, Amanda Mehl, said the health department tracks trends in positivity rates, not just daily totals.

“We always want to make sure people understand that, with data, there is a 2-4 week lag,” said Mehl.

Mehl said the health department relies on many factors before determining data.

“Depending on how the infection rate turns into the case rate, which turns into the hospitalization rate, and then sadly turns into the death rate,” said Mehl.

Why is looking at the data over time a more accurate representation of what’s going on?

“We don’t want to see trends that look like this,” Mehl said. “We want to actually watch, is there a trend occurring? Is there a downward trend occurring? And we are seeing a downward trend.”

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