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Local doctors: at-home COVID tests could be contributing to higher positivity rate



Rochester, New York — With a 5% rolling seven-day average reported on Friday The positivity rate for COVID-19 is rising in Monroe County.

According to local health officials, this percentage alone may not be offering a full picture, and a significant amount of people fail to report negative test results with at-home kits, contributing to a higher positive rate.

“The at-home tests are very difficult to track because it relies on the person who is conducting the test to report them,” said Dr. Michael Mendoza. “We feel confident we are getting the positive results, but as far as the negatives go, I don’t think we are getting all of the negative results.”

According to Dr. Mendoza, this could be contributing to an “artificially high” infection rate.

There are many different metrics doctors use to determine the severity of transmission in the community, Dr. Ed Walsh, infectious disease expert with Rochester Regional Health said.

“For example, you can have many more positive tests, if many people go to get tests,” he said.

For those who got vaccinated six months ago, immunity is starting to wear off, contributing to more breakout cases, Dr. Mendoza said.

According to Dr. Walsh, one of the best ways to measure the severity of transmission, is looking at a community’s hospitalization.

“How many people are being hospitalized, and how many people are dying,” he said.

According to Dr. Walsh, current hospitalization rates are stable, but ‘certainly not low’, and a fair amount are breakthrough cases. He added that the most severe breakouts are seen in older patients and those with weaker immune systems.

“We still are seeing a lot of people in the hospital more than we like, and I think in order for us to get that down, we really have to target and go after non immunized individuals,” said Dr. Walsh.