Pennsylvania Releases COVID-19 Update for Feb. 19-25: Travel Restrictions Lifted

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 12,967, a statewide percent positivity of 6.3% and 26 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 19 – February 25 to the previous seven days, February 12 – February 18.

“As we continue to review our data, we see encouraging news that our cases, hospitalizations and positivity rates are decreasing across the state,” Gov. Wolf said. “Even with the mitigation restriction changes announced today, we need to stay the course and continue practicing social distancing, washing hands frequently, and wearing a mask among other things to keep our neighbors safe in our communities.”

As of Thursday, February 24, the state has seen a seven-day case increase of 12,967 cases; the previous seven-day increase was 15,188 cases, indicating 2,221 fewer new cases across the state over the past week compared to the previous week.

The statewide percent-positivity went down to 6.3% from 6.5% last week. We now are seeing 20 counties who have a positivity rate lower than five percent. There are no counties reporting over 20 percent positivity rate.

“While there is limited vaccine available in Pennsylvania, we continue our mission of getting vaccine into arms and encouraging our fellow Pennsylvanians to continue these proven public health measures to stay safe,” Acting Sec. of Health Beam said. “Together, we can unite to fight against COVID-19.”

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Community Transmission

As of Friday’s data, 26 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 19, there were four counties in the low level of transmission, 37 counties in the moderate level of transmission, and 26 counties were in the substantial level of transmission.

  • Low – Cameron, Forest, Fulton, Sullivan
  • Moderate – Allegheny, Armstrong, Bedford, Berks, Blair, Bradford, Butler, Cambria, Chester, Clarion, Clearfield, Columbia, Crawford, Cumberland, Elk, Fayette, Franklin, Greene, Indiana, Jefferson, Juniata, Lawrence, McKean, Mercer, Montour, Northumberland, Philadelphia, Schuylkill, Snyder, Somerset, Susquehanna, Tioga, Venango, Warren, Washington, Westmoreland, Wyoming
  • Substantial – Adams, Beaver, Bucks, Carbon, Centre, Clinton, Dauphin, Delaware, Erie, Huntingdon, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Luzerne, Lycoming, Mifflin, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Perry, Pike, Potter, 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 83,616 total cases of COVID-19 among 5 to 18-year-olds. Of that total, 2,477 occurred between February 19 – February 25. For the week of 13 – February 19, there were 2,664 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.

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Of the 17,419 cases reported between February 14-20 and excluding Philadelphia County residents and those who answered the digital case investigation, 14.3 percent (2,497) provided an answer to the question as to whether they spent time at a business establishment.

Of those who did provide an answer, 1.7 percent, or 288, answered yes, they visited a business establishment 14 days prior to onset of symptoms:

  • 38 percent (110) of those who said yes reported going to a restaurant;
  • 35 percent (100) of those who said yes reported going to some other business establishment;
  • 13 percent (38) of those who said yes reported going to a bar;
  • 13 percent (36) of those who said yes reported going to a gym/fitness center; and
  • 8 percent (23) of those who said yes reported going to a salon/barbershop.

Of the 17,419 cases, 14.4 percent (2,503) answered the question as to whether they attended a mass gathering or other large event. Of the 14.4 percent of cases, 6.1 percent (152) 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 22, this week’s data saw an increase for people who reported going to a restaurant (38 percent vs. 30 percent last week) The data saw a decrease for people who reported going to the bar (13 percent vs.15 percent last week) going to some other business (35 percent vs. 40 percent last week), and going to a salon/barbershop (8 percent vs. 9 percent last week). The number of those who reported going to the gym remained the same (13 percent vs. 13 percent last week).

The number of those who attended a mass gathering or other large event increased from 6.1 to 7.5 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 14-20, there were 750 forms completed and returned. Of the 99 percent, or 739 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 107 individuals, individuals answered yes.

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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.

Travel Recommendations

Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam signed an order rescinding the travel restrictions order signed in November 2020. More information can be found here.

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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