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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

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Sep 16, 2020 - Health

Exclusive: First full at-home COVID-19 test

The Gauss/Cellex rapid at-home COVID-19 test. Credit: Gauss

Gauss, a computer vision startup, and Cellex, a biotech company that works on diagnostics, are announcing the first rapid COVID-19 test that can be fully performed by people at home without involving a laboratory.

Why it matters: Experts agree that the U.S. still needs far more widespread testing to help contain the coronavirus pandemic. An antigen test that could be performed and provide results rapidly at home could help reduce testing delays and allow people to quickly find out whether they need to isolate because of a COVID-19 infection.

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 30,065,728 — Total deaths: 944,604— Total recoveries: 20,423,802Map
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 6,674,070 — Total deaths: 197,615 — Total recoveries: 2,540,334 — Total tests: 90,710,730Map
  3. Politics: Former Pence aide says she plans to vote for Joe Biden, accusing Trump of costing lives in his coronavirus response.
  4. Health: Pew: 49% of Americans would not get COVID-19 vaccine if available today Pandemic may cause cancer uptick The risks of moving too fast on a vaccine — COVID-19 racial disparities extend to health coverage losses.
  5. Business: Retail sales return to pre-coronavirus trend.
Sep 16, 2020 - Health

CDC director suggests face masks offer more COVID-19 protection than vaccine would

CDC director Robert Redfield suggested in a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on Wednesday that face masks are "more guaranteed" to protect against the coronavirus than a vaccine, citing the potential for some people to not become immune to the virus after receiving the shot.

What he's saying: "These face masks are the most important, powerful public health tool we have. And I will continue to appeal for all Americans, all individuals in our country, to embrace these face coverings. I've said if we did it for 6, 8, 10, 12 weeks, we'd bring this pandemic under control," he said.