Why the local health department doesn’t report positivity rate per county

According to new data from the White House, five counties in the 13 News viewing area are in the ‘Red Zone,’ including Warren, Simpson, Metcalfe, Monroe, and Green counties.

The data refers to ‘red zone’ counties, meaning they each have positivity rates believed to be above 10 percent.

“It’s just another piece of the puzzle,” said Layne Blackwell, Barren River Regional Epidemiologist.
These rates are calculated using all positive and negative test results. Meanwhile, there’s been some confusion on where the White House is getting their data to calculate the positivity rate as many health departments don’t receive negative results.

“I don’t know where they’re getting their data from,” said Mason Barnes, Simpson County Judge Executive.
“Every place that I know to inquire that could possibly give me a number on how many residents have been tested, and every place I’ve gone has said there’s no way I can tell you an exact number on this,” he added.

The Barren River District Health Department says they do not release the positivity rates because they don’t have all the data to calculate it accurately.

“A lot of those negative labs, they don’t come into us, so we can’t accurately calculate that positivity rate, so we don’t like to use the positivity rate on a local level,” said Blackwell.

Barnes says he is concerned about the possible margin for error surrounding the data.

“I think we’re doing a disservice for our community, especially if we don’t let our community know that there is definitely a margin of the area in this number and try to give the community at least what margin of the area there is,” he said. “Is the margin of error a 10 percent, is the margin of the area a 15 percent, we don’t know that answer, I don’t know that answer.”

Since the Barren River District Health Department doesn’t have all the data to report positivity rates, they report ‘Incidence Rate.’

These are calculated by taking the total number of positive COVID persons divided by the total population per 10,000 persons. For example, in Warren County, there are roughly 234 positive cases per 10,000 people, according to the Barren River.

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