An uptick in the number of new positive COVID-19 positive test results has caught the attention of public health officials in Niagara County.
But county Public Health Director Dan Stapleton said the "blip" during a trend of largely negative test results was not entirely unexpected.
"I look at the trend," Stapleton said. "For 12 of the last 15 days, our positivity rate has been under 1 percent."
With the recent positivity uptick, Niagara County's rate is 1.7 percent.
Experts in infectious diseases say positive test rates of less than 1 percent show a flattened infection curve. While rates of between 1 to 2 percent indicate substantial control of the virus spread.
Figures supplied by the county showed 14 new positive cases of COVID-19 on Thursday. That brought the total number of positive cases, countywide, since the start of the pandemic to 1,737. That includes positive cases that have lead to isolations, recoveries, and or deaths.
There have been 101 COVID related deaths in the county, while 1,578 residents have recovered after testing positive for the virus.
Public health officials said 88,615 people in the county have been tested. There 58 active cases in the county, with 56 people isolating at home and two hospitalized.
Two students in the Lockport schools system were reported to have tested positive for the virus on Thursday.
"(Thursday's numbers) were a little bit of a blip," Stapleton said. "But with the re-opening of schools I think it's realistic to expect an increase (in positive tests). we're seeing that today."
The public health director said the timing of the uptick also comes about 14 days after school re-openings, the normal incubation period for the virus.
"I continue to say that until we have a vaccine and two-thirds of the population vaccinated, we expect the numbers (of positive tests) to be in this range."
Stapleton said the county's total number of deaths has remained low and he attributed that to the control of the virus in the region's nursing homes and long-term care facilities.
"We're really fortunate with the number of cases in nursing homes," Stapleton said. Our death rate has remained low because our nursing homes have not been affected."
He said the reduction or elimination of visiting hours and regular testing of both residents and staff and have allowed for the quick identification and isolation of people with positive tests.