As Bucks County and the entire southeast region of the state made the transition from yellow to green status on June 26, a nonpartisan group of health experts using their own traffic light color coding system moved the entire state of Pennsylvania from yellow to red the next day.
The public interest group PennPIRG released a new fact sheet Monday calling on Pennsylvania to maintain all current restrictions related to COVID-19 and take additional measures to improve containment. The fact sheet describes recent studies.
Using multi-sourced data from the Covid Tracking Project, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and epidemiological curves measuring contagion rates, CovidExitStrategy.org along with Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy has measured a 57 percent increase in COVID-19 cases across the state over the past 14 days.
CovidExitStrategy.org data, measured state by state across the nation, has shown a steady increase in infection trends. Under its algorithm, Pennsylvania moved from yellow (“making progress”) to red (“trending poorly”) on June 27.
On May 28, the state-by-state study showed that less than half the nation was red. That number has increased to over two thirds of the nation, going in one month from 22 to 34 states coded red. Pennsylvania’s 57 percent increase places it in the middle of a national trend, from Connecticut, with a 50 percent decrease, to Idaho, with a 381 percent increase in cases over the past two weeks.
COVID-19 cases in Pennsylvania total 87,242 as of noon on July 1. There were 6,687 COVID-19 related deaths across the commonwealth and 689,562 people had been tested.
Pennsylvania ranked eighth in the nation, and Bucks County ranked third in the state with 5,777 cases and 565 deaths. Philadelphia remained the most significant hotspot among the state’s 67 counties with 21,724 cases and 1,611 deaths and Montgomery County was second with 8,488 cases and 798 deaths.
The three counties help define the southeast region of the state as the most troublesome as tracked by spatial analytics and mapping data from Johns Hopkins University.
Over the past 14 days, Philadelphia County had 1,516 new cases, Montgomery had 483, and Bucks had 290, equating to per capita rates in that same period of 205.46 (per 100,000) in Philadelphia, 159.74 in Montgomery and 141.49 in Bucks County. Of the counties comprising the southeast region of the state, the death rate is highest in Bucks at 9.83 percent, followed by Montgomery at 9.49 percent and Philadelphia at 6.14 percent.
At a press briefing on June 29, Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley of Philadelphia declared a pause to green phase reopening plans, saying that the news “has not been good today” as cases continue to rise both nationally and regionally. He said 142 new cases in the previous 24 hours fed into a pattern of cases that were no longer falling but increasing. Over the past two weeks, a third of the new cases were in those under the age of 30, according to Farley.
Most of the cases in Bucks County are concentrated in the southern portion of the county with, Bensalem, Middletown and Bristol townships leading the infection rates with 520, 586 and 624 total cases to date respectively.
While most of the state saw a levelling of the curve around mid-April, almost every region of the state saw a rise in new cases in late June. New COVID-19 cases per day across the state hit their lowest point on June 7 at 303 illnesses, but are now about twice that number, having hit at 612 on June 26.