HomeLocal NewsCOVID-19 Update: case levels consistently decreasing, but threat remainsCOVID-19 Update: case levels consistently decreasing, but threat remainsTue, February 2, 2021 by wcednewsSHARE NOW COVID-19 Update_TwitterHarrisburg, 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 25,985, a statewide percent positivity of 9.3% and 63 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 22 – January 28 to the previous seven days, January 15 – January 21.“We continue to see a positive pattern of decreased case numbers, statewide positivity and decrease in counties with substantial transmission, but we know COVID-19 still remains a threat in our communities,” Gov. Wolf said. “We need to stay the course and unite in the COVID-19 fight. Please wear a mask, wash your hands, practice social distancing and avoid gatherings. Together, we can unite against this dangerous virus and keep our friends and loved ones safe.”As of Thursday, January 28, the state has seen a seven-day case increase of 25,985 cases; the previous seven-day increase was 31,808 cases, indicating 5,823 fewer new cases across the state over the past week compared to the previous week.The statewide percent-positivity went down to 9.3% from 10.5% last week. Every county in the state has a concerning percent positivity above 5 percent. This includes one county with percent positivity at or above 20 percent, a decrease of one county from the week before.“The department has onboarded more contact tracers to support the digital case investigation process of sending out the Connect & Protect Form. Since doing so, we see a higher number of forms being returned and completed which helps inform close contacts of exposure and mitigate spread across the commonwealth,” Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam said. “We will continue to contact as many Pennsylvanians who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 each day to perform the case investigation and we hope that residents do the right thing by answering the call.”Community Transmission As of Friday’s data, 63 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 January 28, there was one county in the low level of transmission, three counties in the moderate level of transmission, and 63 counties were in the substantial level of transmission.Low – Cameron CountyModerate – Clarion, Indiana, Tioga countiesSubstantial – Adams, Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Bedford, Berks, Blair, Bradford, Bucks, Butler, Cambria, Carbon, Centre, Chester, Clearfield, Clinton, Columbia, Crawford, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Elk, 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, Union, Venango, Warren, Washington, Wayne, Westmoreland, Wyoming, and York counties.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 71,885 total cases of COVID-19 among 5 to 18-year-olds. Of that total, 4,321 occurred between January 22 – January 28. For the week of January 15 – January 21, there were 4,143 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 is providing 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 recent 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 34,545 cases reported between January 17-23 and excluding Philadelphia County residents and those who answered the digital case investigation, 10 percent (3,463) provided an answer to the question as to whether they spent time at a business establishment.Of those who did provide an answer, 1 percent, or 352, answered yes, they visited a business establishment 14 days prior to onset of symptoms:35 percent (123) of those who said yes reported going to a restaurant;37 percent (130) of those who said yes reported going to some other business establishment;10 percent (35) of those who said yes reported going to a bar;14 percent (50) of those who said yes reported going to a gym/fitness center; and7 percent (26) of those who said yes reported going to a salon/barbershop.Of the 34,545 cases, 10 percent (3,465) answered the question as to whether they attended a mass gathering or other large event. Of the 10 percent of cases, 7.3 percent (252) 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 January 19, this week’s data saw an increase for people who reported going to some other business remained the same compared to last week (37 percent vs. 44 percent last week), going to a restaurant (35 percent vs. 30 percent last week), going to the gym (14 percent vs. 10 percent last week).The data saw a decrease for people who reported going to the bar (10 percent vs. 12 percent last week) and those going to a salon/barbershop (7 percent vs. 11 percent last week).The number of those who attended a mass gathering or other large event increased to 7.3 percent from 6.9 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 17-23, there were 1,261 forms completed and returned. Of the 98 percent, or 1,241 people, who answered whether they spent time at any business establishment two days before symptom onset or positive collection date if asymptomatic, 11.4percent, or 144 individuals, individuals answered yes:56 percent (80) of those who said yes reported going to a restaurant;6 percent (8) of those who said yes reported going to some other business establishment;19 percent (27) of those who said yes reported going to a bar;19 percent (27) of those who said yes reported going to a gym/fitness center; and7 percent (10) 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.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 recent cases have been linked to travel, and if people are going to travel, we need them 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 anytime 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.