Pennsylvania Releases COVID-19 Update for Jan. 29- Feb. 4

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 20,204, a statewide percent positivity of 8.6% and 59 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 January 29 – February 4 to the previous seven days, January 22 – January 28.

“This is the first week in many, many weeks that we are seeing counties with lower than five percent positivity rates as well as all 67 counties reporting lower than 20 percent positivity rates – this is good news for mitigating the spread of this virus in our communities across the commonwealth,” Gov. Wolf said. “We can continue to fight this virus by wearing a mask, avoiding gatherings, washing hands, downloading the COVID Alert PA app, answering the call when public health professionals call and lastly, getting vaccinated when it’s your turn.”

As of Thursday, February 4, the state has seen a seven-day case increase of 20,204 cases; the previous seven-day increase was 25,985 cases, indicating 5,781 fewer new cases across the state over the past week compared to the previous week.

The statewide percent-positivity went down to 8.6% from 9.3% last week. The Commonwealth is now seeing three counties that have a positivity rate lower than five percent. There are no counties reporting over 20 percent positivity rate.

“We appreciate all residents who have taken steps to mitigate the spread in our communities and, while this fight is not over, our resilience in masking up, washing up and downloading the app are still as important as ever,” Acting Sec. of Health Beam said. “We continue to get vaccines into arms and ensure those in phase 1A who are taking care of others and are the most vulnerable receive their vaccine. While we wait for more vaccine, we need Pennsylvanians to be patient and continue practicing these proven health practices and mitigation efforts to unite against COVID-19.”

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Community Transmission

As of Friday’s data, 59 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 4, there was one county in the low level of transmission, seven counties in the moderate level of transmission, and 59 counties were in the substantial level of transmission.

  • Low – Cameron County
  • Moderate – Armstrong, Bedford, Cambria, Elk, Indiana, Westmoreland,         Wyoming
  • Substantial – Adams, Allegheny, Beaver, Berks, Blair, Bradford, Bucks, Butler, Carbon, Centre, Chester, Clarion, Clearfield, Clinton, Columbia, Crawford, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Erie, Fayette, Forest, Franklin, Fulton, Greene, Huntingdon, Jefferson, Juniata, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lawrence, Lebanon, Lehigh, Luzerne, Lycoming, McKean, Mercer, Mifflin, Monroe, Montour, Montgomery, Northampton, Northumberland, Perry, Philadelphia, Pike, Potter, Schuylkill, Snyder, Somerset, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, Union, Venango, Warren, Washington, 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 75,095 total cases of COVID-19 among 5 to 18-year-olds. Of that total, 3,210 occurred between January 22 – January 28. For the week of January 22 – January 28, there were 4,321 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 37,757 cases reported between January 24-30 and excluding Philadelphia County residents and those who answered the digital case investigation, 9.7 percent (3,676) provided an answer to the question as to whether they spent time at a business establishment.

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Of those who did provide an answer, 1 percent, or 384, answered yes, they visited a business establishment 14 days prior to onset of symptoms:

  • 38 percent (147) of those who said yes reported going to a restaurant;
  • 34 percent (131) of those who said yes reported going to some other business establishment;
  • 12 percent (47) of those who said yes reported going to a bar;
  • 15 percent (56) of those who said yes reported going to a gym/fitness center; and
  • 8 percent (30) of those who said yes reported going to a salon/barbershop.

Of the 37,757 cases, 9 percent (3,426) answered the question as to whether they attended a mass gathering or other large event. Of the 9 percent of cases, 7.3 percent (271) 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 1, this week’s data saw an increase for people who reported going to a restaurant (38 percent vs. 35 percent last week), going to the bar (12 percent vs. 10 percent last week), going to the gym (15 percent vs. 14 percent last week) and those going to a salon/barbershop (8 percent vs. 7 percent last week). The data saw a decrease for people who reported going to some other business (34 percent vs. 37 percent last week).

The number of those who attended a mass gathering or other large event remained the same at 7.3 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 January 24-30, there were 1,422 forms completed and returned. Of the 99 percent, or 1,400 people, who answered whether they spent time at any business establishment two days before symptom onset or positive collection date if asymptomatic, 12.9 percent, or 184 individuals, answered yes:

  • 54 percent (99) of those who said yes reported going to a restaurant;
  • 6 percent (11) of those who said yes reported going to some other business establishment;
  • 23 percent (42) of those who said yes reported going to a bar;
  • 16 percent (30) of those who said yes reported going to a gym/fitness center; and
  • 11 percent (21) 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

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 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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