An increase in the number of new cases of the coronavirus being reported prompted Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf to confirm Monday that a much-anticipated “fall resurgence” of the COVID-19 disease “is here.”
“While we must always take this deadly virus seriously, now is the time for all of us to double down on our efforts to keep ourselves and those around us safe,” he said. “We’ve seen what happens when masks aren’t worn and social distancing isn’t practiced–people get sick, so we need to stay vigilant and work together to stop the spread of COVID-19.”
State health officials reported that 2,372 cases were confirmed over the past two days, including 1,269 new cases on Sunday, Oct. 18 and 1,103 new cases on Monday, Oct. 19.
As Thursday, Oct. 15, the state had seen a seven-day case increase of 8,723 cases.
“The previous seven-day increase was 7,398, indicating a 1,325-case increase across the state over the past week,” Wolf’s news release about the resurgence said.
That week-over-week increase equates to a 17.9 percent rise in the number of new cases.
Additionally, it was reported Monday that Pennsylvania’s statewide percent-positivity rate went up to 4.3 percent from 3.9 percent last week.
“Our data, including case counts, hospitalizations and percent positivity reflect the fall resurgence occurring,” confirmed state health secretary Dr. Rachel Levine. “The department and the Wolf administration are working continuously to ensure we are prepared for this resurgence and to protect Pennsylvanians. We all must unite to protect ourselves and loved ones from COVID-19 by washing our hands, wearing a mask, social distancing, avoiding large gatherings and downloading the COVID Alert PA app.”
At a news conference in Harrisburg, Levine also presented the latest data from the state’s COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring System dashboard, which tracks the level of community transmission as a basis for recommendations for schools to determine instructional models; data on cases among 5 to 18-year-olds; cases that reported visiting a business among potential locations where exposures may have occurred; and updated travel recommendations.
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 related to COVID-19.
Locally both Northampton and Lehigh counties have recently reported significant increases in their numbers of new COVID-19 cases, although Northampton County remains at greater risk of another outbreak, according to CovidActNow.org.
Although the infection rate in the county has fallen somewhat since last week, at 1.18 as of Monday it remains above the critical threshold of 1.10 at which the number of new cases may begin to grow at an unsustainable rate.
The county is currently reporting 9.2 new cases per 100,000 residents per day, on average, which equals approximately 30 new cases a day given its total population of approximately 310,000.
The Wolf administration recommends the following steps to help reduce the spread of COVID-19:
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
- Cover any coughs or sneezes with your elbow instead of your hands.
- Disinfect surfaces frequently.
- Stay home to avoid spreading COVID-19, especially if you are unwell.
- Wear a mask when in a business or where it is difficult to maintain proper social distancing, as it is required in both environments.
- Download the free COVID Alert PA app and make your phone part of the fight. The app can be found in the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store by searching for “covid alert pa.”