By Dan Spalding
WARSAW – Local officials are downplaying a recent spike in Kosciusko County’s positivity rate for COVID-19 testing.
New statistics appearing on the Indiana Department of Health’s COVID dashboard Tuesday, Sept. 1, showed Kosciusko County with a positivity rate of 14.1 percent, which is more than twice the number it was just a few weeks ago.
By Wednesday, the number on the state dashboard was 12.7 percent.
Those numbers put Kosciusko County among the highest in the state.
County Health Officer Dr. William Remington, though, says that that’s a “statistical aberration,” resulting from several factors.
Officials pointed to two reasons for the spike:
- The ending of the drive-thru testing by the state in Warsaw, which saw upward of 175 tests per day and a low number of positive results.
- Increased use of point-of-care antigen testing, which provides quick results, but officials are not reporting all of the negative results.
Anticipating an outcry over the new statistic, Remington and others tried to tamp down concerns during a news briefing Wednesday at Warsaw City Hall.
“I want to reassure the residents of this county that we don’t have an explosion of clinical cases,” Remington said, adding, “You should not fear sending your child to school because of this high positivity rate.”
Part of the problem is that health officials using point-of-care antigen testing are not always reporting negatives test results.
Remington said they are urging reporting partners to provide negative results as well as positives.
“Certainly, if you’re going to talk about positivity rates, you better be sure to capture the negatives,” he said.
The controversy is the latest development that critics of the government and the pandemic itself will likely seize upon.
And it comes on the heels of reports that the CDC in the past week noting that COVID-19 was the “only cause mentioned” on death certificates in 6% of deaths involving the virus. Critics have misrepresented the report to suggest the actual number of deaths should be far fewer.
Remington acknowledged the struggles in that regard.
“There’s a lot of noise out there. A lot of voices. A lot of data,” Remington said while also urging people to “stay the course” in taking precautions aimed at slowing the spread of the virus.
Meanwhile, the health department announced statistics on testing results related to school districts in the county.
A report made available Wednesday says that 18 positive tests have been collected from people who are either ages 3-18, are college students in the county or adults employed by public schools in the county.
Eleven of those who tested positive are between the ages of 13 and 18. Ten of the 18 were asymptomatic, six had very mild symptoms, one had mild symptoms and one was considered to have moderate symptoms.
As a result, 89 people were quarantined from school due to school-related COVID cases.
The health department plans to issue school-related statistical updates every other week.
Also at the press briefing was Warsaw Community Schools Superintendent Dr. David Hoffert, who said the district has seen two positive cases (one in the high school and another in an elementary) so far. That resulted in a total of 14 people being quarantined.
All of the quarantined students have either returned to class or are on schedule to return.
“There is no indication of community transmission in Warsaw Community Schools to this point and we firmly believe this is due in large part to system-wide precautionary steps and plans that have been implemented inside our schools,” Hoffert said.
Below are two of the charts accompanying an update on school-related cases in Kosciusko County released Wednesday by the health department.