COVID – 19 UPDATE, AUGUST 18, 2021


Nationally, COVID-19 cases continue to rise this last two week period, as Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 case numbers increased for a fifth-straight week.  According to the latest seven-day period recorded by the state Department of Health’s COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring System Dashboard, which ended on Aug. 12, statewide cases rose by 1,541, or by roughly 21 percent, compared to the prior week. A week earlier, for the seven-day period ending on Aug. 5, the overall week-over-week rise in cases was 2,819, which represented a roughly 67-percent increase.

Whether that slowdown will continue remains to be seen, but any type of slowdown in new cases should eventually impact the number of reported virus-related hospitalizations, which again increased during the seven-day period ending on Aug. 12.

During that time frame, the average of virus hospitalizations rose to 834.7 from 556.4, for a week-over-week increase of roughly 50 percent. That’s up from a 33-percent rise during the prior seven-day period ending on Aug. 5, but given the case increases during the past few weeks reflected weekly jumps of more than 60 percent and the week-to-two-week lag time between when a case is reported and when it could get serious enough to require hospitalization, the latest increase was almost expected.

The increased case totals have also increased state’s positive virus test percentage as well.  The Commonwealth’s overall positivity is now up to 6 percent, from 5.4 percent last week.  Statewide positivity is further above the five-percent threshold, signifying more widespread transmission of the virus.

The percentage of those who have recovered from the virus stayed at 96 percent (now of the 1,246,014 confirmed and probable cases reported since the start of the outbreak) as of Sunday, Aug. 15, with that percentage unchanged from the prior week. “Recovered” is defined by state health officials as a case that has not been reported as a death, and it is more than 30 days past the date of their first positive test or onset of symptoms.

Pennsylvania has managed to get at least one vaccine dose into 67.4 of the entire population and 80.3 percent of the adult population (18 and older) as of Aug. 15. But getting people  completely vaccinated remains an issue.  Nearly 100 percent of Pennsylvania’s 65-and-older population have received one vaccine dose, with 84.8 percent  fully vaccinated.

The vast majority of new cases are occurring in unvaccinated individuals, and the Wolf Administration is continuing to focus on getting as many people as possible vaccinated rather than enforcing mandates for activities such as masking.

With eight counties reporting either a decline or no increase, 51 counties showed an increase last week.  The largest increases continue to be in the state’s most populated counties. The top 10 counties for the seven-day period ending on Aug. 12 were Dauphin (+144), Philadelphia (+129), Allegheny (+102), Lehigh (+99), Montgomery (+85), Northampton (+81), Chester (+71), York (+71), Lancaster (+70) and Delaware (+70) counties. The top ten counties account for about 60 percent of the week-over-week rise in cases (last week the top 10 represented about 53 percent).

Forty-six counties, up from 35 last week, had positivity of five percent or more, with a few larger-population counties starting to break into what had been a group of mostly sparsely-populated counties with the highest positivity levels, though five of the top ten counties have populations of less than 50,000 people, and eight have populations less than 80,000.

The seven-day virus hospitalization average for the period ending on Aug. 12 showed an increase of 278.3, and the 14-day average is likewise indicating an upturn in the hospitalization curve, with that average at 779.7 as of Sunday, Aug. 15, up from 512.9 a week earlier.

The daily hospitalization figure as of Sunday was up to 1,064, compared to 692 a week earlier, while COVID-19 patients in an ICU bed totaled 297, up from 167 a week ago, 104 two weeks ago, 83 three weeks ago and just 50 a month ago. Those on ventilators were up to 128, an increase of 51 from a week ago and 99 from a month ago.

With the continued rise in COVID-19 cases, virus-related deaths are again seeing larger week-over-week increases: the total since the start of the outbreak rose to 27,966 as of Aug. 15, up 64 from the 27,902 reported as of Aug. 8.  Two weeks ago, that total was 25.

All of the state’s virus data are illustrated on the Health Department’s COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring System Dashboard, updated every Friday, and its main virus data web page, though the state’s vaccination data are pulled from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 Vaccinations in the United States webpage.

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