State officials puzzled by sudden uptick in COVID-19 positivity

State officials puzzled by sudden uptick in COVID-19 positivity
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state’s overall positivity rate went from a seven-day average of 5.9 percent to 8.33 percent on Sunday. (Source: WWNY)

ALBANY, N.Y. (WWNY) - The statewide COVID-19 positivity rate spiked over the weekend and officials are trying to figure out what it means.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state’s overall positivity rate went from a seven-day average of 5.9 percent to 8.33 percent on Sunday.

“For it to go up in two days is dramatic and very, very fast,” he said.

The governor called is “statistically improbable.”

One theory they’re looking at is that many people who were tested before Christmas were making sure they were negative before they traveled and weren’t necessarily showing symptoms.

The people who’ve been tested since, he said, may have gotten a test because they were symptomatic.

“People who were going to get a test because they were traveling, because they were concerned about spreading the virus were getting tested up until Christmas,” he said, “and anyone who went and got tested post-Christmas over the weekend was a person who was showing symptoms and thought they might be positive.”

The post-Christmas test sampling “was artificially skewed,” he said, especially since the number of people tested was about half of what it was before Christmas.

“Fewer people got tested and more of those people were showing symptoms,” he said. That’s why they went and got tested.”

Bolstering the theory, he said, was the sharp rise in positive tests from urgent care clinics.

“Urgent care clinics tend to be the place where people go when they feel symptoms and they want to get a test,” he said.

He said it could be part of a national trend.

But we don’t know,” he said. “We’ll see what the numbers say over the next few days.”

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