Governor Tom Wolf and Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam today released a weekly status update detailing the state’s mitigation efforts based on the COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring System dashboard, highlighting a seven-day case increase of 13,275, a statewide percent positivity of 5.7% and 29 counties with substantial transmission status.
The update includes the following:
- Level of community transmission as a basis for the recommendations for Pre-K to 12 schools to determine instructional models.
- Data on cases among 5-18-year-olds.
- Cases that reported visiting a business among potential locations where exposures may have occurred.
The dashboard is designed to provide early warning signs of factors that affect the state’s mitigation efforts. The data available on the Early Warning Monitoring dashboard includes week-over-week case differences, incidence rates, test percent-positivity, and rates of hospitalizations, ventilations and emergency room visits tied to COVID-19. This week’s update compares the period of February 26 – March 4 to the previous seven days, February 19 – February 25.
“We continue to ask all Pennsylvanians to stay the course to unite against this virus,” Gov. Wolf said. “As we have passed one year since the first case of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania and are rolling out our vaccination plan, practicing the proven health practices such as social distancing, washing hands frequently and wearing a mask continue to be important steps to mitigating the spread of the virus.”
As of Thursday, March 4, the state has seen a seven-day case increase of 13,275 cases; the previous seven-day increase was 13,294 cases, indicating 19 fewer new cases across the state over the past week compared to the previous week.
The statewide percent-positivity went down to 5.7% from 6.5% last week. We now are seeing 22 counties who have a positivity rate lower than 5 percent. There are no counties reporting over 20 percent positivity rate.
“Thank you to all our fellow Pennsylvanians who practice safe and healthy practices and answer the call when public health professionals call to perform a case investigation or contact tracing – these practices truly help us unite and fight COVID-19 across the state,” Acting Sec. of Health Beam said. “We are moving in the right direction thanks to the commitment of our fellow Pennsylvanians.”
As of Friday’s data, 29 counties were in the substantial level of community transmission, the highest level of transmission.
There are three levels of transmission: low, moderate and substantial. For the week ending February 26, there was five counties in the low level of transmission, 33 counties in the moderate level of transmission, and 26 counties were in the substantial level of transmission.
- Low – Cameron, Forest, Fulton, Potter, Sullivan
- Moderate – Adams, Allegheny, Armstrong, Bedford, Blair, Butler, Cambria, Chester, Clarion, Clearfield, Crawford, Elk, Fayette, Franklin, Greene, Indiana, Jefferson, Juniata, Lawrence, Lebanon, McKean, Montgomery, Perry, Schuylkill, Snyder, Somerset, Susquehanna, Tioga, Venango, Warren, Washington, Westmoreland, Wyoming
- Substantial – Beaver, Berks, Bradford, Bucks, Carbon, Centre, Clinton, Columbia, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Erie, Huntingdon, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lehigh, Luzerne, Lycoming, Mercer, Mifflin, Monroe, Montour, Northampton, Northumberland, Philadelphia, Pike, Union, Wayne, York
Cases Among 5-18-Year-Olds
The Department of Health is providing weekly data on the number of statewide cases of COVID-19 among 5 to 18-year-olds.
Throughout the pandemic, there have been 86,159 total cases of COVID-19 among 5 to 18-year-olds. Of that total, 2,543 occurred between February 26 and March 4. For the week of February 19 – February 25, there were 2,477 cases of COVID-19 among 5 to 18-year-olds.
The Department of Health provides weekly data on the number of individuals who responded to case investigators that they spent time at business establishments (restaurants, bars, gym/fitness centers, salon/barbershops) and at mass gatherings 14 days prior to the onset of COVID-19 symptoms.
It is important to note that due to the number of cases, the department is prioritizing case investigations to prevent outbreak. In addition to the need for people to answer the call, the significant number of cases helps contribute to the low percentages in case investigation data. All of this reinforces the need for Pennsylvanians to take steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Of the 17,073 cases reported between February 21-27 and excluding Philadelphia County residents and those who answered the digital case investigation, 15 percent (2,556) provided an answer to the question as to whether they spent time at a business establishment.
Of the 17,073 cases, 15 percent (2,562) answered the question as to whether they attended a mass gathering or other large event. Of the 15 percent of cases, 8.6 percent (220) answered yes to whether they attended a mass gathering or other large event 14 days prior to onset of symptoms.
Compared to data reported on March 1, this week’s data saw an increase for people who reported going to a restaurant (40 percent vs. 38 percent last week) and going to some other business (38 percent vs. 35 percent last week). The data saw a decrease for people who reported going to a bar (11 percent vs.13 percent last week). The number of people going to the gym remained the same compared to last week (13 percent vs. 13 percent last week) and the number of those going to a salon/barbershop remained the same (8 percent vs. 8 percent last week).
The number of those who attended a mass gathering or other large event increased from 6.1 to 8.6 percent compared to last week.
In addition to the traditional case investigation, the Department of Health launched the new Connect & Protect Form as a means to complete a digital case investigation. During the week of February 21-27, there were 728 forms completed and returned. Of the 99.5 percent, or 724 people, who answered whether they spent time at any business establishment two days before symptom onset or positive collection date if asymptomatic, 14.3 percent, or 104 individuals, individuals answered yes:
- 62 percent (64) of those who said yes reported going to a restaurant;
- 4 percent (4) of those who said yes reported going to some other business establishment;
- 19 percent (14) of those who said yes reported going to a bar;
- 19 percent (20) of those who said yes reported going to a gym/fitness center; and
- 6 percent (6) of those who said yes reported going to a salon/barbershop.
The numbers above highlight business settings and mass gatherings as possible sites for transmission. It is important to note that currently Pennsylvania is experiencing widespread community transmission. With less than 10 percent of those asked about what types of businesses they visited or if they attended a mass gathering responding to the question, the department is again reminding Pennsylvanians that it is essential that they answer the phone when case investigators call and to provide full and complete information to these clinical professionals or on the Connect & Protect form the case investigator provides.
Gov. Wolf continues to prioritize the health and safety of all Pennsylvanians through the COVID-19 pandemic. Pennsylvanians should continue to take actions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, regardless of in what county they live. This includes wearing a mask or face covering any time they are in public. COVID-19 has been shown to spread easily in the air and contagious carriers can be asymptomatic. Pennsylvanians are encouraged to wash their hands, social distance, avoid gatherings and download COVID Alert PA.