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Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project; Note: Positive rate shown is the 7-day average from June 1 to Aug. 6, 2020; Cartogram: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

A cluster of states in the Midwest are seeing more of their coronavirus tests coming back positive — potentially an early indicator of a growing outbreak.

The state of play: A high positive rate means that a higher share of those getting tested are sick. That could be because there are more sick people, or because a state isn't doing enough testing.

The big picture: Even though positivity rates are holding steady in some hotspots, that's not good news when they're plateauing at high levels.

  • Florida, Nevada, Mississippi and Alabama are all still hovering near a 20% positivity rate, and the positivity rate is still rising in Texas.
  • That means that those states have a high number of cases, aren't doing enough testing or, most likely, some combination of the two.
  • Arizona's rate is decreasing, although it's still around 15%.

Between the lines: Total U.S. testing this week decreased by nearly 13% compared to the week before, muddying the picture of what's going on in some states.

  • Arkansas, for example, saw an increase in its positivity rate over the last two weeks, as its testing decreased by 34%.
  • Nebraska, on the other hand, is also facing a growing positivity rate, but its testing increased by 9% — a bad combo.

The good news: New York has transformed itself from a national nightmare into a model for every other state, with a positivity rate of 1%. That suggests that it is testing more than enough people, and very few of them are sick.

Go deeper

Nov 15, 2020 - World

Mexico tops 1 million coronavirus cases, as death toll nears 100,000

A sign above crowds of people in a street in Mexico City, Mexico, warning to "avoid masses" and keep distance from others during a nationwide, 12-day shopping event that's running through Nov. 20, designed to stimulate the economy. Photo: Cristopher Rogel Blanquet/Getty Images

Mexico surpassed 1 million coronavirus cases and over 98,200 deaths from COVID-19 late Saturday, per Johns Hopkins data.

Driving the news: Mexican health officials have focused on testing the seriously ill and conducted only about 2.5 million COVID-19 tests in total — representing 1.9% of the population, AP reports.

Nov 14, 2020 - Health

Austria announces nationwide lockdown as COVID-19 cases soar

Austria's Chancellor Sebastian Kurz hold a news confernce in Vienna. Photo: Herbert Neubauer/APA/AFP via Getty Images

Austria will impose a nationwide lockdown on Tuesday, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said Saturday, after a nighttime curfew and partial shutdown failed to control the country's surge in coronavirus cases.

Why it matters: Austria is experiencing an average of 7,000 new COVID-19 cases a day, Kurz tweeted on Saturday. The nation confirmed a record 9,586 new virus cases on Friday, per Reuters.