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Pennsylvania shares update on COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring Dashboard, cases among businesses, age groups

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Gov. Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine yesterday released a weekly status update detailing the state’s mitigation efforts based on the COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring System Dashboard comparing the seven-day period of Aug. 7 – Aug. 13 to the previous seven days, July 31 – Aug. 6, along with data on cases that reported visiting a business among potential exposures, and age-specific data for 19- to 24-year-olds.

“Our percent positivity decreased for the third week in a row, which is a testament to the testing occurring, and that testing is widely available throughout the state,” Wolf said. “However, with increased testing comes increased case counts. The virus is still circulating, and we must continue to wear masks, practice social distancing and avoid large gatherings to keep our numbers low, stop the spread and allow more freedom.”

As of Aug. 13, the state has seen a seven-day case increase of 5,530, the previous seven-day increase was 5,030, indicating a 500-case increase across the state over the past week. The statewide percent-positivity went down to 4.0% from 4.1% last week.

The Department of Health is now providing data on the number of individuals who responded to case investigators that they spent time at business establishments (restaurants, bars, gym/fitness center, salon/barbershop) and at mass gatherings 14 days prior to the onset of symptoms.

Of the 24,468 positive cases reported between July 13 and August 11, less than half of the individuals provided an answer to the question as to whether they spent time at a business establishment. Of those who did provide an answer, 13% or 1,499 answered yes, they visited a business establishment 14 days prior to onset of symptoms:
 
47% of those who said yes reported going to a restaurant;
24% of those who said yes reported going to a bar;
19% of those who said yes reported going to some other business establishment;
10 % of those who said yes reported going to a gym/fitness center; and
9% of those who said yes reported going to a salon/barbershop.

Of the 24,468 cases, 52% answered the question as to whether they attended a mass gathering or other large event. Of the 52%, nearly 12% (1,648) answered yes to whether they attended a mass gathering or other large event 14 days prior to onset of symptoms.
 
Case investigator notes included frequent mentions of visits to bars and restaurants among positive case. To better understand this emerging trend, on July 13, contact tracers began asking more specific questions on 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.

In addition, the department has looked at the percent change in cases among 19- to 24-year-olds from April through July 14, compared to April through Aug. 14 after the most recent mitigation efforts were put in place. The percent of cases among 19- to 24-year-olds in the SE remained the same (17 % as of July 14 to 17 % as of Aug. 14).

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