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COVID in the COUNTY: Monroe County Not Out of the Covid Woods – Not By a Long (Vaccine) Shot

Last updated on May 15, 2021

HARRISBURG (May 7 2021) – The Pennsylvania Department of Health today released data showing that in the seven-day period ending yesterday new Covid in Monroe County fell by one-third over the previous period. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that, even with a 33% reduction, the county has nearly forty times the number of new cases at which the CDC considers the virus under control.

The CDC defines low, or controlled incidence as 10 or fewer new cases per 100,000 people over a period of 14 days. This rate is equivalent to 0.71 new cases per 100,000 people per day, or about 1.2 new cases new cases per day in Monroe County. In the seven day period ending May 6, the county sustained 330 new Covid cases, or 47.14 per day.

The “incidence” rate – the number of new cases per 100,000 people – is used to, among other things, allow meaningful comparisons of the infection rate among areas of disparate population At 193.8, the county’s incidence rate improved but remained in the top five in among all commonwealth counties, where it has been for over a month. The statewide incidence rate was 109.8 in the same week.

The percent of tests coming back positive (the “PCR” rate) shrunk for he second week, but remains concerning. At 12.1%, the local PCR rate is third among state counties, better than the first place it held the prior two periods, but still high. The target number indicating the virus is under control locally is 5%, while anything over 10% reflects substantial unchecked community spread of the disease. Pennsylvania’s overall PCR rate is 6.6%.
While the numbers show that county residents need to continue to be cautious and to get or encourage others to get their vaccines, there is reason to be hopeful that the tide is turning.

Although on a downturn, new cases still place Monroe County solidly within the “uncontrolled community spread” range.
Nevertheless, according to the non-profit group, Covid Act Now, which has been monitoring and analyzing data since the outbreak began, posted good news about our infection rate this week. Infection rate represents how fast Covid is spreading in a given area right now by estimating the number of people that a newly infected person goes on to eventually infect.

Daily new cases may be high, but if the infection rate is low, then if the unvaccinated population continues to practice masking in public, social distancing, and other mitigation measures, we know that daily new cases will be low in the near future.

As of May 7, the group evaluated the county infection rate as .86 – meaning each infected person is infecting fewer than one additional person. This is the county’s lowest infection rate since September 1, 2020.

The New York Times/John Hopkins Covid report stated that, as of May 7, “because of extremely high Covid-19 transmission in Monroe County, unvaccinated people are at an extremely high risk. Vaccinated people are at lower risk.”

As an example of the risk unvaccinated individuals in the county face, Covid Act Now says the current ICU capacity is at a critical level, with 92% of ICU beds currently in use.

When it comes to vaccines, the county remains far behind most other counties in the state. With 44.4% having received at least one dose, the county ranks 38th of the 67 counties in Pennsylvania.

Statewide, the department of health reported that 52.5% of eligible Pennsylvanians have received at least one vaccine dose. The CDC ranks Pennsylvania tenth among all states for first doses administered by percentage of population, and fifth for total doses administered. This ranking is unchanged from one week ago.

Mask-wearing is required in all businesses and whenever leaving home. Fully-vaccinated people are permitted to participate in some activities without a mask based on CDC guidance released yesterday.

All Pennsylvanians, age 16 and older, are now eligible to schedule a COVID-19 vaccine. The state’s provider map is available on the DOH website. A commonwealth COVID-19 vaccination guide explains the current process for getting one.
Pennsylvanians with questions about the vaccination process can call the Department of Health hotline at 1-877-724-3258.
The state health department website – health.pa.gov – also offers a vaccine provider map for residents to find a COVID-19 vaccine provider near them.

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