Pennsylvania Releases COVID-19 Update for Feb. 12-18

Governor Tom WolfCredit: Commonwealth Media Services

HARRISBURG, PA — Governor Tom Wolf and Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam has 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 14,886, a statewide percent positivity of 6.5% and 40 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.
  • Updated travel recommendations.

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 12 – February 18 to the previous seven days, February 5 – February 11.

“Following these proven public health practices, our mitigation orders, and most importantly, the resilience of our fellow Pennsylvanians to unite against COVID-19, Pennsylvania is seeing encouraging data relating to less COVID-19 spread within the community as we report lowered statewide positivity rates as well as lowered case counts,” Gov. Wolf said. “While we know there is reduced community spread, it is still important to continue public health efforts across the state. We ask Pennsylvanians to continue to course – wash your hands, practice social distancing, and wear mask. Additionally, we ask residents to download the COVID Alert PA app, answer the call when a public health professional is calling you, and get the COVID-19 vaccine when you are eligible.”

As of Thursday, February 18, the state has seen a seven-day case increase of 14,886 cases; the previous seven-day increase was 20,347 cases, indicating 5,461 fewer new cases across the state over the past week compared to the previous week.

The statewide percent-positivity went down to 6.5% from 8.0% last week. We now are seeing 16 counties who have a positivity rate lower than five percent. There are no counties reporting over 20 percent positivity rate.

“As we continue our COVID-19 response, the Department of health is working with vaccine providers to get vaccine into arms across the commonwealth,” Acting Sec. of Health Beam said. “While we do have access to limited vaccine allotments from the federal government, the importance of the proven health practices and mitigation efforts remain important. While we await more vaccine, we encourage people to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by wearing a mask, washing hands and social distancing.”

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Community Transmission

As of Friday’s data, 40 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 12, there was three counties in the low level of transmission, 24 counties in the moderate level of transmission, and 40 counties were in the substantial level of transmission.

  • Low – Cameron, Fulton, Sullivan
  • Moderate – Allegheny, Armstrong, Bedford, Blair, Butler, Cambria, Clarion, Clearfield, Crawford, Elk, Fayette, Indiana, Jefferson, Mercer, Montgomery, Potter, Somerset, Susquehanna, Tioga, Venango, Warren, Washington, Westmoreland, Wyoming
  • Substantial – Adams, Beaver, Berks, Bradford, Bucks, Carbon, Centre, Chester, Clinton, Columbia, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Erie, Forest, Franklin, Greene, Huntingdon, Juniata, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lawrence, Lebanon, Lehigh, Luzerne, Lycoming, McKean, Mifflin, Monroe, Montour, Northampton, Northumberland, Perry, Philadelphia, Pike, Schuylkill, Snyder, 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 81,139 total cases of COVID-19 among 5 to 18-year-olds. Of that total, 2,664 occurred between February 13 – February 19. For the week of February 5 – February 12, there were 3,380 cases of COVID-19 among 5 to 18-year-olds.

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.

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 22,488 cases reported between February 6-13, and excluding Philadelphia County residents and those who answered the digital case investigation, 11.8 percent (2,655) provided an answer to the question as to whether they spent time at a business establishment.

Of those who did provide an answer, 1.2 percent, or 267, answered yes, they visited a business establishment 14 days prior to onset of symptoms:

  • 30 percent (81) of those who said yes reported going to a restaurant;
  • 40 percent (106) of those who said yes reported going to some other business establishment;
  • 15 percent (39) of those who said yes reported going to a bar;
  • 13 percent (35) of those who said yes reported going to a gym/fitness center; and
  • 9 percent (25) of those who said yes reported going to a salon/barbershop.
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Of the 22,4884 cases, 11.9 percent (2,670) answered the question as to whether they attended a mass gathering or other large event. Of the 11.9 percent of cases, 7.6 percent (202) 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 February 16, this week’s data saw an increase for people who reported going to some other business (40 percent vs. 37 percent last week), going to the bar (15 percent vs. 11 percent last week), and those going to a salon/barbershop (9 percent vs. 8 percent last week).

The data saw a decrease for people who reported going to a restaurant (30 percent vs. 35 percent last week) and those going to the gym (13 percent vs. 18 percent last week).

The number of those who attended a mass gathering or other large event increased from 7.5 to 7.6 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 6-13, there were 1,004 forms completed and returned. Of the 99 percent, or 997 people, who answered whether they spent time at any business establishment two days before symptom onset or positive collection date if asymptomatic, 13.4 percent, or 134 individuals, individuals answered yes:

  • 48 percent (64) of those who said yes reported going to a restaurant;
  • 2 percent (3) of those who said yes reported going to some other business establishment;
  • 23 percent (31) of those who said yes reported going to a bar;
  • 26 percent (35) of those who said yes reported going to a gym/fitness center; and
  • 7 percent (9) 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.

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Travel Recommendations

The Department of Health, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, continue to discourage any nonessential travel, even for people who are fully vaccinated.

In November, the Department of Health provided an updated travel order requiring anyone over the age of 11 who visits from another state to provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test or place themselves in a travel quarantine for 14 days upon entering Pennsylvania. Travel quarantine guidance was changed to 10 days on Dec. 5 based on new CDC guidance.

This order does not apply to people who commute to and from another state for work or medical treatment, those who left the state for less than 24 hours, or those complying with a court order, including child custody.

It is important that people understand that this Order is in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania. A concerning number of cases have been linked to travel, and if people are going to travel, they will need to take steps to protect themselves, their loved ones and their community, and that involves having either a negative test, or placing themselves in a quarantine.

Gov. Wolf states 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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