51 Pa. counties have substantial spread of COVID-19, positive test rate drops for 9th week – PennLive

Pennsylvania’s positive test rate for the coronavirus continues to decline, Gov. Tom Wolf’s office said Tuesday.

And while most of Pennsylvania’s counties are still showing a substantial spread of the virus, the number of counties with high transmission is dropping.

The positive test rate for COVID-19 fell to 8% for the week of Feb. 5-Feb. 11, down from 8.6% during the previous week. The positive test rate has now dropped for nine consecutive weeks after reaching a high of 16.2% in December. While the declining rate is undeniably a positive, health officials have said a positive test rate higher than 5% is a source of concern.

There are eight fewer counties showing a substantial spread of COVID-19. Last week, there were 59 counties with substantial spread. The Wolf administration uses three categories to gauge the spread of COVID-19: low, moderate and substantial.

There had been substantial spread in every county through much of December and January. Now, nearly a quarter of Pennsylvania’s counties are no longer seeing substantial levels of transmission.

“We are reporting another week of lowered statewide positivity, which is an encouraging sign of as we continue our COVID-19 response,” Wolf said in a statement.

“Across the commonwealth, we are getting vaccine into arms to ensure our residents are protected against COVID-19 exposure, but there is still community spread ongoing in our communities, so we cannot get inpatient,” Wolf added. “We need to stay the course to best fight this virus.”

Coronavirus cases and hospitalizations have dropped in recent weeks, according to state health department figures. Health officials continue to stress the importance of wearing masks and practicing social distancing to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

A closer look

State officials have urged school officials to evaluate the extent of community spread of COVID-19 in determining whether students should be in school or educated remotely. Still, local school leaders retain the authority to decide if schools should hold classes in person, remotely or with a hybrid approach.

Only one county is viewed as having a low rate of transmission, but 15 counties are now in the moderate category. Here’s a look at the level of transmission in Pennsylvania’s counties.

Low: Cameron County

Moderate: Armstrong, Bedford, Butler, Cambria, Clarion, Elk, Fayette, Indiana, Jefferson, Somerset, Tioga, Venango, Warren, Washington and Westmoreland

Substantial: Adams, Allegheny, Beaver, Berks, Blair, Bradford, Bucks, Carbon, Centre, Chester, Clearfield, Clinton, Columbia, Crawford, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Erie, Forest, Franklin, Fulton, Greene, Huntingdon, Juniata, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lawrence, Lebanon, Lehigh, Luzerne, Lycoming, McKean, Mercer, Mifflin, Monroe, Montgomery, Montour, Northampton, Northumberland, Perry, Philadelphia, Pike, Potter, Schuylkill, Snyder, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Union, Wayne, Wyoming and York

Vaccine rollout

The Wolf administration also said it is aiming to ramp up the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, which has received substantial criticism from lawmakers and other advocates for going too slowly.

Last week, Pennsylvania Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam announced the state was revising its approach. Going forward, the state is shifting the bulk of the vaccines to providers who have proven fastest in giving out shots.

Bean has said she expects the number of vaccine providers to fall to 200-300, down from nearly 800. She said health systems and independent pharmacists will receive the bulk of the supply. Some groups representing doctors have criticized the approach, saying it’s a mistake to shift some vaccines away from primary care physicians.

The health department is also requiring providers who are scheduling appointments online to also set up phone numbers so those seeking vaccines can call and talk to a person. Beam said this is needed since some don’t have web access at home and aren’t adept at using computers.

Nearly 1.3 million Pennsylvanians have received at least the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccines (they require two doses). More than 420,000 have received both doses and are fully vaccinated, according to the health department.

“The Department of Health is laser-focused on working with trusted local providers to get vaccine in arms as quickly as it is available from the federal government as we continue our COVID-19 response,” Beam said in a statement.

Statewide, nearly 900,000 Pennsylvania residents have been infected with the virus and more than 23,000 deaths have been tied to COVID-19, according to the health department.

Most of those who are infected develop relatively mild symptoms and some never even get sick. But doctors stress COVID-19 carries potentially serious health risks to everyone, particularly seniors and those with chronic health conditions or other high-risk factors.

Sorgente articolo:
51 Pa. counties have substantial spread of COVID-19, positive test rate drops for 9th week – PennLive

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