This Is When You'll Know Your State Has Coronavirus Under Control

Positive test rates need to stay at 5 percent or lower for two weeks.

One of the biggest questions many of us have been asking ourselves amid the coronavirus pandemic is when we can start going back to normal. The answer to that is complicated—and depends on how you define "normal." Even as states across the country are reopening, it's important to be aware of the ongoing risks that we encounter on a day-to-day basis. And it's also important to look at the data, because while it might seem like we've gotten past the worst of it, coronavirus numbers are rising in areas throughout the U.S. With that in mind, here's one piece of data you should really keep your eye on—the percentage of positive test rates in your state.

According to The New York Times, "When positive test rates stay at 5 percent or lower for two weeks, that suggests there's adequate testing in your state to get virus transmission under control, and you're less likely to cross paths with the virus."

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Want to find out what your state's positive test rate is? Johns Hopkins University's Coronavirus Resource Center keeps an updated list of positive test rate percentages by state. That's how you'll learn, for example, that Massachusetts is at 7.8 percent and South Carolina is at 8.3 percent, while New York and Connecticut are under the 5 percent cut-off, at 1.5 percent and 3.1 percent, respectively.

And remember, it's not just about that 5 percent number of positive test rates—it's also about the consistency of that number over two weeks. Moreover, The New York Times adds, "the closer the number is to 2 percent, the better."

coronavirus test being administered to white man in car

As Erin Bromage, PhD, a comparative immunologist and biology professor at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, tells the newspaper, "It doesn't mean you have total freedom. It means there's enough testing going on there that you can feel confident that your interactions in society are going to be of much lower risk."

To that end, regardless of the positive test rates in your state, it's important to continue taking precautions like wearing a face mask and maintaining social distancing measures. Just because the risk of contracting COVID-19 is lower doesn't mean there's no risk at all. And for more percentages to keep an eye on, check out these 7 States Where Coronavirus Numbers Are Surging Right Now.

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