Officials are adjusting a key metric used to determine when the spread of COVID-19 is under control and changing the threshold to reach Phase Three of reopening, according to The Washington Post.
Mayor Muriel Bowser said Wednesday that officials are now looking for a COVID-19 positivity rate below 5 percent as measured by a rolling seven-day average, rather than the previous goal of less than 10 percent for seven straight days to enter Phase Three of reopening, The Post reported. LaQuandra Nesbitt, the director of the D.C. Department of Health, said officials will use a seven-day rolling average instead of a daily rate to mitigate certain testing discrepancies, like recurring drops in the number of people who are tested on weekends, according to The Post.
“We now have far more evidence that suggests in order for rebound not to occur, for you to have a second peak or a second wave after you turn on more activity, that percentage should be below five,” Nesbitt said. “If you can keep it below three, even better.”
The World Health Organization recommends a state or region maintain a 5 percent positivity rate for at least two weeks before lifting shelter-at-home and social distancing protocols. The current test positivity rate is meeting the city’s goal at 3.7 percent, according to D.C.’s coronavirus database, but has not met goals in other metrics, like transmission rate and the percentage of new cases from quarantined individuals.
The announcement follows Bowser’s recent steps to curb the virus’ spread, like the expansion of a District-wide mask mandate and a requirement for travelers into the District from 27 “high-risk” states to quarantine for two weeks.