Low rate of positive coronavirus tests

As happens sometimes, I receive two related emails on the same day.

Noah Harris writes:

I was wondering if you have any comment on the NY State Covid numbers. Day after day the positive percentage stays in a tight range of about 0.85-0.99%. How can the range be so narrow and stable? Do you think we are at the limits of the test and there may be a significant amount of false positives?

And here’s Tom Daula:

Relatively old article, but I think it is interesting considering your analysis of the Stanford study. Another wrinkle for the measurement problem; both of contagious individuals and viral load sufficient to be related to death. The article doesn’t mention international comparisons.

The Times article, which is not so old—it’s from 29 Aug—is entitled, “Your Coronavirus Test Is Positive. Maybe It Shouldn’t Be.
The usual diagnostic tests may simply be too sensitive and too slow to contain the spread of the virus.”

I don’t really know what to think about all this, but I’ll share with you.