Pennsylvania Realeases COVID-19 Update for March 19-25

Governor Tom WolfCredit: Commonwealth Media Services

HARRISBURG, PA — Governor Tom Wolf and Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam 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 17,811 a statewide percent positivity of 7.5% and 35 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 provides 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 March 19 – March 25 to the previous seven days, March 12-18.

“Throughout this reporting period, we reached over one million COVID-19 cases to date in Pennsylvania as well as an uptick on our statewide percent positivity,” Gov. Wolf said. “The warmer weather brings with it opportunities to be outdoors, but we must still unite against COVID-19 by wearing a mask, practicing social distancing and washing your hands frequently until the virus is no longer a threat in our communities.”

As of Thursday, March 25, the state has seen a seven-day case increase of 17,811 cases; the previous seven-day increase was 14,632 cases, indicating 3,179 additional new cases across the state over the past week compared to the previous week.

The statewide percent-positivity increased to 7.6 percent from 6.5 percent when compared to last week. There are now 17 counties that have a positivity rate lower than 5 percent. There are no counties reporting over 20 percent positivity rate.

“Even as more and more Pennsylvanians are vaccinated, we must not forget to follow the mitigation measures still in place,” Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam said. “Our vaccination efforts have been ramping up as more and more vaccine becomes available.  Pennsylvania has administered more than 4.7 million doses to over 3.3 million people thus far. As it becomes Your Turn to receive the vaccine, we encourage Pennsylvanians to find a provider nearest them to get vaccinated.”

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Community Transmission

From Friday, March 26 data, 35 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 March 26, there were six counties in the low level of transmission, 26 counties in the moderate level of transmission, and 35 counties were in the substantial level of transmission.

  • Low – Cameron, Forest, Fulton, Potter, Sullivan, Venango
  • Moderate – Armstrong, Beaver, Bedford, Blair, Butler, Cambria, Clarion, Crawford, Cumberland, Erie, Fayette, Greene, Huntingdon, Indiana, Jefferson, Juniata, Lawrence, McKean, Mercer, Snyder, Somerset, Tioga, Union, Warren, Washington, Westmoreland
  • Substantial – Adams, Allegheny, Berks, Bradford, Bucks, Carbon, Centre, Chester, Clearfield, Clinton, Columbia, Dauphin, Delaware, Elk, Franklin, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Luzerne, Lycoming, Mifflin, Monroe, Montgomery, Montour, Northampton, Northumberland, Perry, Philadelphia, Pike, Schuylkill, Susquehanna, Wayne, Wyoming, York

Cases Among 5-18-Year-Olds

The Department of Health provides weekly data on the number of statewide cases of COVID-19 among 5 to 18-year-olds.

Throughout the pandemic, there have been 96,368 total cases of COVID-19 among 5 to 18-year-olds. Of that total, 4,294 occurred between March 19 and March 25.

Cases by demographic group is available on the DOH website.

Business Visits

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.

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The department continues to prioritize case investigations to prevent outbreaks. In addition to the need for people to answer the call from a case investigator, Pennsylvanians should continue to take steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Of the 19,454 cases reported March 14 through March 20 and excluding Philadelphia County residents and those who answered the digital case investigation, 15.4 percent (2,990) of respondents provided an answer to the question as to whether they spent time at a business establishment.

Of the 19,454 cases, 15.5 percent (3,017) answered the question as to whether they attended a mass gathering or other large event. Of the 15.5 percent of cases, 11.1 percent (335) 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 22, this week’s data saw an increase for people who reported going to a restaurant (47 percent vs. 46 percent last week). The data saw a decrease for people who reported going to the bar (14 percent vs.16 percent last week), those going to a salon/barbershop remained the same (6 percent vs. 7 percent last week), going to the gym (14 percent vs.15 percent last week). The number of those going to some other business remained the same compared to last week (29 percent vs. 29 percent last week).

The number of those who attended a mass gathering or other large event increased from 9.6 to 11 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 March 14-20, there were 1,195 forms completed and returned. Of the 98.7 percent, or 1,180 people, who answered whether they spent time at any business establishment two days before symptom onset or positive collection date if asymptomatic, 12.6 percent, or 150 individuals, individuals answered yes:

  • 35 percent (52) of those who said yes reported going to a restaurant;
  • 4 percent (6) of those who said yes reported going to some other business establishment;
  • 11 percent (17) of those who said yes reported going to a bar;
  • 15 percent (23) of those who said yes reported going to a gym/fitness center; and
  • 4 percent (6) of those who said yes reported going to a salon/barbershop.
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The numbers above highlight business settings and mass gatherings as possible sites for 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 states that he 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.

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