As more COVID-19 cases are being frequently confirmed for Guthrie County residents, it begs to question the significance of the 14-day average positivity rate.

About 50 new cases have been added in the last week for Guthrie County, bringing its total to at least 341 with a 16.6% positivity rate as of Tuesday, according to the county’s dashboard. For over a week Guthrie has been sitting higher than the 15% threshold of County positivity for the state to consider moving schools to online, in contrast to higher populated counties like Dallas, Polk, and Story, as the state dashboard shows Guthrie as one of the 18 highest positive percentage counties in Iowa. Guthrie County Public Health Director Jotham Arber explains that there can be a lot to glean from the percentage.

Arber says the positivity rate can jump for a county conducting 20-30 tests per day when there is a facility outbreak, “It is concerning and we should be concerned and we should work at trying to get those numbers down, but I also don’t think that it’s a good idea to just look at one number, right? So, like I said we can skew our numbers a little higher because of facility outbreaks. We wanna also look at, ‘Okay, so we have a high positivity rate, how many outbreaks do we have?’ You know how many facilities would we consider outbroken? And then we need to look at our schools and say ‘How many students do we have that have tested positive? Do we have a lot of students that are quarantined?’”

Arber hopes that new cases will start to plateau in the next couple weeks, though colder weather forcing more residents inside could be one factor to keep the community spread going. He continues to encourage residents to wear face masks in public when social distancing isn’t possible, stay home when you are even mildly sick, and wash hands frequently.