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This article is free to all readers because it includes information important to the health and safety of our community.

Callaway County's deaths attributed to COVID-19 now stand at 12, according to a Monday update from the Callaway County Health Department.

As with previous deaths, the Health Department did not release additional information about the deceased.

This is Callaway County's third COVID-19 related death for November.

Cases continue to rise rapidly within the county, mirroring similar growth throughout Missouri. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services has recorded more than 1,100 new cases of COVID-19 in Callaway County since Nov. 1, out of a total of 2,637 since March.

The total reported by the county Health Department, which often lags behind the state's, stood at 2,354 as of Monday, including 692 active cases.

Callaway County's seven-day positivity rate — the percentage of COVID-19 tests administered over the last seven days that come back positive — currently stands at 14.9 percent, according to DHSS. That may seem significantly lower than the 52 percent positivity rate reported Nov. 18, but the drop actually represents a change in how DHSS calculates positivity rates, rather than a dramatic decrease in positive tests.

A DHSS spokesperson expained via email Monday that the old method didn't count repeated tests with the same result taken by the same individual when calculating the positivity rate. DHSS refers to the process of eliminating repeated tests as "de-duplication." The new method — also used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — counts every test; it's calculated by dividing the total number of positive tests divided by the total number of tests.

To understand why that makes such a big difference in the resulting positivity rate, imagine a county with only two residents. One person gets tested 10 times and each test comes back negative, while the other person gets tested only once and tests positive.

Using that data, the old de-duplication method would calculate a positivity rate of 50 percent. The CDC's method would find a positivity rate of about 9.1 percent.

"The positivity rate inflation caused by this de-duplication has grown over the past several months as more and more Missourians get tested as a precaution or through workforce testing programs, which DHSS encourages," the DHSS spokesperson wrote.

DHSS implemented the new calculation method Nov. 19.

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