Back to the status quo: Hillsborough positive testing rate for COVID-19 drops after single-day spike

COVID-19 Tampa 813
Testing might be out of whack from the holiday.

Things are back to what has become the status quo in Hillsborough County in recent weeks. After seeing percent positivity rates in new COVID-19 tests return in the county spike in Tuesday’s Florida Department of Health report, numbers were back down to where they had been trending Wednesday.

Wednesday’s report, which covers data from Tuesday, showed the rate of positive tests relative to overall testing back down to 9.07%. That’s down from what now appears to have been a single day anomaly of 32.59%.

The return to normal came after the county received more than 4 times as many tests on Tuesday than on Monday — 6,613 from 1,535. Tuesday’s test batch is the largest since Christmas Eve, but largely on par with the tests coming in the week before Christmas.

The spike in Monday’s positivity is likely attributable to the timing of tests. They were likely tests taken on or around Christmas, a time when people were less likely to get a precautionary test and instead more likely to only receive a test if they were exhibiting actual symptoms.

Tuesday’s batch of test results likely reflects tests taken after the holiday when individuals started to go back into normal mode and resume preemptive testing.

The lower positivity rate means that even though tests more than quadrupled there were actually fewer new cases Tuesday than Monday. From Monday morning to Tuesday morning FDOH confirmed 758 new COVID-19 cases in Hillsborough. From Tuesday morning to Wednesday morning, when the positivity rate normalized, FDOH confirmed 674 new cases, more on par with the daily increases seen in recent weeks. In all, Hillsborough has tallied 76,221 cases.

Excluding Monday’s positivity rate spike, the county’s 7-day average sits right at 10%. Including the single-day spike would put that average at more than 13%, but that would likely not reflect current trends.

Hillsborough also tallied four new deaths from COVID-19 Tuesday, bringing the county’s death toll to 1,068, and three new hospitalizations.

In Pinellas County, Monday’s percent positivity spike was not as drastic at 13.85%. Still, Wednesday’s report covering Tuesday data showed normalization there too, with the rate back down to 8.46%. Like Hillsborough, the drop came after more tests rolled in. The county saw nearly double the number of test results returned Tuesday as on Monday — 4,145 compared to 2,316.

While testing amped back up, Pinellas’ new test results are down overall from the 5,000-7,000 routinely seen each day over the past two weeks.

Even with Pinellas County’s spike, which unlike Hillsborough occurred over two days, it’s seven-day positivity rate is just 8.78%.

Pinellas County confirmed 374 new cases of COVID-19 bringing its overall caseload to 44,243. The county confirmed five additional deaths related to the novel coronavirus, for a death toll of 1,045, and 25 new hospitalizations.

Janelle Irwin Taylor

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected].


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