Coronavirus positivity rate: What the term means

A health care worker carries a stack of clipboards at a COVID-19 testing site sponsored by Community Heath of South Florida at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Clinica Campesina Health Center.

From social distancing and self-quarantine to a new take on sheltering in place, our coronavirus vocabulary expands almost daily.

Lately, a lot of health and elected officials have been using one term an awful lot: positivity rate.

That's the percentage of people who test positive for the virus of those overall who have been tested. So, as more and more people are being tested, the focus is shifting to the positivity rate -- how many of those tested are actually infected.

Miami-Dade County in Florida, where the number of cases is skyrocketing, on Sunday reported a staggering 26% positivity rate. So, for every 100 people tested, 26% of them tested positive for coronavirus. Its 14-day average was 22% that day.

A lot of officials, such as Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, point to a rising positivity rate to counter arguments that the increase in case numbers is simply the result of more people being tested.

The positivity rate "is the real issue," Gimenez told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Monday.

While a 0% positivity rate would be ideal, Miami-Dade County's goal is to get it back below 10%, where it was two weeks ago, Gimenez said.

Los Angeles County, another Covid-19 hotspot, on Tuesday reported its positivity rate had jumped more than 2 percentage points to 11.6%, from the 9.5% reported Monday.

There are almost 3 million confirmed coronavirus cases nationwide, and the number of cases has surged, especially in the South and West, in the past few weeks.

To find the positivity rate in your area, check your state and county health department websites.

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