35 Pa. counties have substantial spread of COVID-19; positive test rate rises for second week in a row – PennLive

The rate of positive COVID-19 tests has increased in Pennsylvania for the second consecutive week and more counties are showing substantial spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Tom Wolfs office said Monday.

The positive test rate rose to 7.6% for the week of March 19-25, up from 6.5% the previous week. Pennsylvanias positive test rate had dropped for 12 consecutive weeks before holding steady at 5.7% for two weeks and then rising to 6.5%.

For context, the rate of positive coronavirus tests remains well below the peak of 16.2% in December, but health officials have said a positive test rate higher than 5% is a source of concern.

There are now 35 counties showing substantial spread of the coronavirus, the Wolf administration said. Last week, the state reported 25 counties showing substantial transmission, so 10 more counties are now seeing high spread of COVID-19 over the past week. The Wolf administration uses three categories to gauge the transmission of COVID-19: low, moderate and substantial.

The rise in the positive rate and the growing number of hospitalizations comes a week before the state rolls back some restrictions on restaurants and other businesses. Beginning April 4, restaurants and entertainment venues will be able to serve more customers.

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, Wolf said in a statement. 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.

Overall, the number of counties with high transmission of the virus has dropped steadily in recent weeks. There had been substantial spread in every county of the state through much of December and January.

A closer look

Statewide, 1,916 COVID-19 patients are being treated in hospitals, according to the health departments online dashboard. Thats well below the peak of more than 6,300 in December, but more people have been hospitalized over the past several days.

State officials have urged school districts to evaluate the spread of COVID-19 in determining whether students should be in school, educated remotely or with a mix of distance learning and face-to-face instruction. The majority of school districts are offering at least some in-person instruction but some schools continue to operate remotely.

Both Philadelphia and Allegheny counties are showing substantial transmission of the coronavirus. In central Pennsylvania, Dauphin, Lancaster and York counties are among those showing substantial spread, while Cumberland County is reported as having moderate transmission.

Heres the full breakdown of COVID-19 transmission levels in each county.

Low: Cameron, Forest, Fulton, Potter, Sullivan and 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 and 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 and York

Vaccine rollout

As supplies have improved, the state is making progress with the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, though many remain frustrated in their quest to get appointments for a shot.

So far, more than 3.3 million people have had at least one shot and more than 1.6 million are fully vaccinated, according to the Pennsylvania Health Department. The state figures dont include the city of Philadelphia, which gets its own vaccine supply and is handling its own rollout.

In Philadelphia, more than 490,000 people have had at least one shot and more than 200,000 are fully vaccinated, according to the city health Department.

Combining the Philadelphia and state data, heres the full picture in Pennsylvania: more than 3.8 million have had at least one shot and more than 1.8 million are fully vaccinated. Most of those who have been vaccinated in Pennsylvania have been given the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, which require two shots.

Teachers, school employees and child care center workers are getting the first batch of the Johnson & Johnson vaccines, which require only one shot. The governor has said the vaccination of teachers is ahead of schedule and should be finished by the end of the week.

The governor has said the next batch of Johnson & Johnson vaccines will go to front-line workers, including law enforcement, firefighters, grocery store employees and food and agricultural workers.

The Wolf administration, which has been criticized for the pace of the rollout, notes that Pennsylvania is 12th in the nation in getting its residents at least partially vaccinated, according to federal data. But lawmakers and county officials in some areas, including southeastern Pennsylvania, have said the state should work more closely with local and regional partners. Critics also note the state needs to do better in vaccinating people from minority groups.

More than 1 million people have contracted the coronavirus and more than 25,000 deaths are tied to COVID-19, according to the Pennsylvania Health Department.

Most of those who are infected suffer relatively mild symptoms and many dont even get sick, health officials say. But doctors say the virus poses serious risks to everyone, particularly for seniors and those with chronic medical conditions.

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35 Pa. counties have substantial spread of COVID-19; positive test rate rises for second week in a row - PennLive

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