FIU Expert Sees Community Transmission In Rising Coronavirus Cases

As the number of tests increase in Florida, so does the share of them testing positive -- a sign one FIU expert says suggests it's not just more testing behind the rise.

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Another day, another record for new coronavirus cases in Florida -- almost 2,800 more.

Some politicians try to pin the rise on increased testing.

But a Florida International University public health expert says the increasing positivity rate is also a sign of community transmission.

"The proportion of tests that are positive takes into consideration the (level of) testing," said Dr. Mary Jo Trepka, chair of the epidemiology department at FIU.

Evidence that it's not just asymptomatic young people getting surprised by positive test results is emerging in local emergency rooms, she said.

"More people are presenting to emergency departments with COVID-like illnesses," she said. "Taken together (with increased positive rates) that suggests we’re seeing more transmission within the community. "

Statewide, the share of tests returning positive has doubled in the last two weeks, to nearly 10% Monday.

And more new COVID patients are being admitted to Miami-Dade hospitals than at any time over the last month.

While hospitals remain underutilized, with plenty of capacity, Trepka said, "If we start to see an even steeper increase in terms of the number of cases and the proportion positive, then the hospitals could begin to have serious problems."

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