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New data from COVID-19 early monitoring system, but our schools remain the same


Harrisburg, PA – New data from the COVID-19 early monitoring system that affects whether schools can be fully opened or not, but it looks as though things will remain the same for our local schools.

While Jefferson, Elk, and Clarion Counties have stayed in the low transmission risk category, Clearfield County has also stayed in the moderate level.

This means that schools within Clearfield County, such as DuBois Area School District, are still recommended by the Department of Education to not have students physically in schools five days a week. DuBois School District has opted to split their students into two groups or teams, which will alternate days of either going to school in-person or, on opposite days, having their classes online.

As of Friday’s data, Columbia and Centre counties were in the substantial level with known sources of outbreaks fueling community transmission.


Read the press release from the Pennsylvania Department of Health:

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine today released a weekly status update detailing the state’s mitigation efforts based on the COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring System Dashboard. Updates are released each Monday.

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 August 28 – September 3 to the previous seven days, August 21 – August 27.

“Our percent positivity increased significantly this week, a sign that this virus is still affecting Pennsylvanians,” Gov. Wolf said. “We must continue our focus on taking actions to protect ourselves and others, such as wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, washing our hands and avoiding large gatherings. Together, Pennsylvanians can work to prevent the spread of the virus.”

As of Thursday, September 3, the state has seen a seven-day case increase of 5,453; the previous seven-day increase was 4,188, indicating a 1,265-case increase across the state over the past week.

The statewide percent-positivity went up to 4.0% from 3.2% last week. Counties with concerning percent-positivity include Columbia (18.9%), Armstrong (8.6%), York (7.9%), Clinton (7.4%), Beaver (6.4%), Northumberland (5.7%), Indiana (5.6%), Blair (5.2%), Centre (5.0%), Dauphin (5.0%), and Lancaster (5.0%). Each of these counties bears watching as the state continues to monitor all available data.

Community Transmission
As of Friday’s data, Columbia and Centre counties were in the substantial level with known sources of outbreaks fueling community transmission. The departments of Education and Health will speak with school district representatives in both counties to discuss the implications of this level of transmission.

For the week ending September 3, 20 counties were in the low level of transmission, 45 counties in the moderate level, with two at the substantial transmission level:

  • Low – Bedford, Bradford, Cameron, Carbon, Clarion, Elk, Forest, Fulton, Greene, Jefferson, Juniata, McKean, Perry, Pike, Potter, Sullivan, Tioga, Venango, Warren, Wyoming
  • Moderate – Adams, Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Berks, Blair, Bucks, Butler, Cambria, Chester, Clearfield, Clinton, Crawford, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Erie, Fayette, Franklin, Huntingdon, Indiana, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lawrence, Lebanon, Lehigh, Luzerne, Lycoming, Mercer, Mifflin, Monroe, Montgomery, Montour, Northampton, Northumberland, Philadelphia, Schuylkill, Snyder, Somerset, Susquehanna, Union, Washington, Wayne, Westmoreland, York
  • Substantial – Centre, Columbia

Cases Among 5-18-Year-Olds
The Department of Health is providing weekly data on the number of statewide cases of COVID-19 among 5-18-year-olds.

Throughout the pandemic, there have been 7,788 total cases of COVID-19 among 5-18-year-olds. Of that total, 486 occurred between August 28-September 3.

Cases by demographic can be found here.

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.

Of the 4,442 confirmed cases reported between August 23 and August 29, 44 percent (1,953) provided an answer to the question as to whether they spent time at a business establishment.

Of those who did provide an answer, 13.5 percent, or 263, answered yes, they visited a business establishment 14 days prior to onset of symptoms:

  • 60 percent (157) of those who said yes reported going to a restaurant;
  • 21 percent (55) of those who said yes reported going to some other business establishment;
  • 11 percent (29) of those who said yes reported going to a bar;
  • 14 percent (35) of those who said yes reported going to a gym/fitness center; and
  • 7 percent (19) of those who said yes reported going to a salon/barbershop.

Of the 4,442 confirmed cases, 45 percent (2,002) answered the question as to whether they attended a mass gathering or other large event. Of the 45 percent, nearly 14 percent (273) 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 August 31, this week’s data saw an increase in people who reported visiting a restaurant (60 percent vs. 50 percent) and going to a gym/fitness center (14 percent vs. 12 percent). Numbers went down for this week’s data for people going to some other business (21 percent vs. 25 percent), going to a salon/barbershop (7 percent vs. 9 percent) and going to a bar (11 percent vs. 12 percent). The number of those who attended a mass gathering or other large event went up from nearly 13 percent to nearly 14 percent.

On July 13 contact tracers began asking more specific questions on the types of businesses visited and if individuals attended a mass gathering, defined as more than 250 people in attendance outdoors or more than 25 indoors.

The numbers above highlight business settings and mass gatherings as possible sites for transmission. With less than half of those asked about what types of businesses they visited or if they attended a mass gathering responding to the question, the department is reminding Pennsylvanians that it is essential that people answer the phone when case investigators call and to provide full and complete information to these clinical professionals.

Travel Recommendations
Also today, the Department of Health updated its travel recommendations, originally announced on July 2, to remove California, and add North Carolina to the list of states recommended for domestic travelers returning from to quarantine for 14 days upon return to Pennsylvania.

It is important that people understand that this recommendation 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 quarantining.

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.