<< Back

Drop in COVID Positivity Rate Due to Increased Testing, Not a Weakening Virus

June 09, 2020

News that Connecticut’s COVID-19 “positivity rate,” or the number of people testing positive for the virus, is down seems like great news – maybe even cause for celebration that the virus is gone for good – but understanding the numbers tells a more cautionary tale.

Dr. Ajay Kumar, chief clinical officer at Hartford HealthCare, said widespread increases in testing for COVID-19 is the reason behind the drop in positivity rate, not necessarily an indication that the disease is waning and less infectious.

“The hospitalization rate is down and the positivity rate is down at the moment, but that speaks to the testing. It’s not true that everyone who is going to be infected has been infected,” he said as part of HHC’s daily media briefing.

Dr. Kumar credited measures taken statewide at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March – closing schools and businesses, asking people to isolate at home, reinforcing hand hygiene and stopping visitors to hospitals and nursing homes – with helping to flatten the curve of cases statewide to what he now called a “slow spread.”

But he reiterated that the virus is still around and can be spread from person to person. HHC and other institutions have broadened the scope of testing, which yields slightly confusing data.

“If you are testing more people and less numbers come back positive, it appears the virus is declining,” he said. “It is not.”

Testing for COVID-19 allows healthcare officials to study the spread over time and be alerted when there is another spike in infections coming. Keeping abreast of the infection rate, Dr. Kumar said, allows the state to reopen more confidently.

He still anticipates a second wave of COVID-19 this fall, but does not believe it will be as lethal as the spring. He also said the practices put into place already will help and there are now proven treatments for the virus.

“The worst for the system to manage is over,” Dr. Kumar said. “The more we delay large numbers of exposures, the more likely we are to have more helpful therapies.”

Not feeling well? Call your healthcare provider for guidance and try to avoid going directly to an emergency department or urgent care center, as this could increase the chances of the disease spreading.

Click here to schedule a virtual visit with a Hartford HealthCare-GoHealth Urgent care doctor.

Stay with Hartford HealthCare for everything you need to know about the coronavirus threat. Click here for information updated daily.

Questions? Call our 24-hour hotline (860.972.8100 or, toll-free, 833.621.0600). 

Get text alerts by texting 31996 with COVID19 in the message field.