AUSTIN (KXAN) — We’re not seeing many lines around the block at testing sites around the country right now, but the co-founder of Curative says the positivity rate the company is seeing in patients is higher than it was during the first three COVID-19 surges and is approaching omicron levels from December.
Pair that with the lowest testing numbers we’ve seen since July of last year, and Isaac Turner says it’s likely COVID-19 is spreading in our community right under our noses.
“We’ve been seeing high positivity since the middle of April, so we really believe there is a lot of people out there with COVID who just aren’t testing with a lab that is reporting to public health,” Isaac Turner with Curative said. He also notes that at-home testing likely plays a big role, and that case numbers are underrepresented.
“A lot of that is due to the confidence, I think, people have that COVID is over but our positivity rate and our viral data suggest that there is a lot more COVID spread than people are really aware of,” Turner said.
On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported about 10% of U.S. counties in the “high” risk category for COVID-19. The risk levels are low, medium and high and are determined based on three factors: the number of new cases in the past seven days, new hospital admissions in the past seven days, and the percent of staffed hospital beds being used by COVID-19 patients.
“We’re seeing steady increases in case totals and hospitalizations which is incredibly concerning,” said Dr. Desmar Walkes, Austin-Travis County Health Authority. “We need everyone to do their part, especially those who are at higher risk. Wear a mask inside when gathering with others. We know that this will help protect loved ones at risk for poor outcomes and our hospital system.”
The CDC has the following recommendations for people depending on which COVID-19 Community Level their county is in:
- Stay up-to-date with COVID vaccines
- Get tested if you have symptoms
- Same precautions as low risk and:
- Talk to your health care provider about whether you should wear a mask and take other precautions if you are at high risk for severe illness
- Same precautions as medium risk and:
- Wear a mask indoors in public
- Additional precautions may be needed for people at high risk for severe illness
You can check your county’s risk level on the CDC’s interactive map.
“We all have mask fatigue, but wearing a mask is what’s necessary to keep COVID-19 in check,” said Austin Public Health Director Adrienne Sturrup. “Testing and getting vaccinated and boosted are also critical. Take a test and stay home even if you only feel slightly sick. Get up to date on your vaccines at your doctor’s office or at one of our clinics.”