COVID conundrum: In states with the tightest measures – cases are on the rise. Why this data is misleading

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(NBC/WETM) — COVID-19 cases are rising in states with the strictest measures in the country.

Meanwhile, numbers are dropping in states like Arkansas and Texas that have reopened businesses and removed mask mandates.

One theory behind this conundrum: differences in testing rates

Alabama has experienced a 50% decrease of reported infections in two weeks. However, it is also dead last in the United States for COVID testing.

For Alabama, they only have 56 tests per 100,000 people.

Comparatively, in Vermont they administer 1,420 tests per 100,000 people and in New York they administer 1,084 tests per 100,000 people. In these states, numbers rose in the past two weeks.

Dr. Justin Nistico, DO, Infectious Disease Specialist at Arnot Health, said testing discrepancies are likely the reasoning.

“It is definitely tricky because it may be reported that we are seeing these upticks, but more testing is readily available,” said Dr. Nistico. “I would argue that it might be more beneficial to know about these cases as opposed to say if someone was to go somewhere else and you might not have as much testing.”

Dr. Nistico confirmed there might be a false sense of security regarding the falling cases in southern states.

“People may be more in the dark or less in the know,” said Dr. Nistico. “Then you may wind up causing more of a medical crisis in that area.”

Another theory is COVID fatigue.

In Michigan, where people are just coming out of lockdown for the first time in months, cases are up more than 100% as demographics shift.

Dr. Vineeta Chopra, University of Michigan, said, “What’s different in this wave is these are younger individuals between the ages of 30 and 60, the vast majority of which are not currently vaccinated.”

Texas, on the other hand, began reopening its doors months ago.

Dr. Neil Gandhi, regional medical director at Houston Methodist Hospital, gave his reasoning.

“A lot of individuals in the Southern part of the U.S. and especially here in Texas have already been exposed to the Coronavirus, so many individuals already have Coronavirus antibodies,” said Dr. Gandhi.

That leads us to the risky behavior we have seen in places like Miami Beach, Florida where numbers have only increased slightly.

The third theory is that young people are acting as carriers.

Doctors are saying as they return to other states, young people are taking the virus with them.

Dr. Aileen Marty, Infectious Disease Expert at Florida International University, said young people are less likely to show up for testing.

“It’s going to be when those younger individuals infect older individuals, or more vulnerable individuals, and that takes time,” said Dr. Marty.

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