COVID-19 testing criteria in Arkansas — is it working?


WHO says 5%, CDC says 10% positivity rate for reopening guidelines

5/13/2020, file photo, test swabs and specimen tubes sit on a table at a COVID-19 testing site at the Abyssinian Baptist Church in the Harlem neighborhood of New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) — In mid-May, the World Health Organization (WHO) advised governments to have a 5%, or lower, positive COVID-19 rate for at least two weeks before reopening.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is working with the White House reopening plan. CDC’s goal is, “to achieve a rate of less than 10% positive COVID-19 tests among symptomatic, asymptomatic, and pre-symptomatic individuals.”

Governor Asa Hutchinson has been using the CDC’s recommended 10% rate, which shows Arkansas is below the level. However, Arkansas is at 6.59%, which puts it above the recommended WHO level.

As of Wednesday, May 27, 28 states were above the positivity rate including Arkansas, according to WHO guidelines.

Johns Hopkins University, updated Wednesday, May 27, 11:45 p.m. EDT.

This data indicates that Arkansas is not testing enough to meet WHO’s benchmark.


If a positivity rate is too high, that may indicate that the state is only testing the sickest patients who seek medical attention, and is not casting a wide enough net to know how much of the virus is spreading within its communities. A low rate of positivity in testing data can be seen as a sign that a state has sufficient testing capacity for the size of its outbreak and is testing enough of its population to make informed decisions about reopening.

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