After more than two months of week-to-week declines in new COVID-19 cases, Pennsylvania experienced a slight increase – of nine cases – July 2-8, according to the state Department of Health’s COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring System Dashboard.

The trend in the 14-day average number of hospitalized patients continues to drop, however. The full 14-day moving average since the start of the pandemic can be found here.  Statewide percent positivity for the week of July 2 – July 8 was 1.2%.

It’s been two weeks since the state’s mask mandate for unvaccinated individuals was lifted, but much of the DoH data reflects less than two weeks since the mask mandate on unvaccinated people was lifted.

Nevertheless, some health care experts have been warning of the spread of more contagious variants of COVID-19 through populations that have not been vaccinated.

The state’s vaccination rate ranks it in the upper half of the nation, with 63.7 percent of the entire population and 76.4 percent of the adult population (18 and older) having received at least one dose of a vaccine, while 61.2 percent of the adult population has been fully vaccinated, all as of July 11.  Nearly 100 percent of Pennsylvania’s 65-and-older population  has received one vaccine dose, with 82.5 percent fully vaccinated.

Still, the number of people getting vaccinated in Pennsylvania – like much of the rest of the nation – has dropped dramatically from the levels in the spring, prompting only minimal daily growth in the vaccination rates.

In addition, the DoH reduced the number of COVID-19 vaccine doses that had been administered by about 500,000, saying the numbers were duplicates.  The figures were released Friday without explanation, but also showed an increase of about 60,000 in the number of people who are counted as fully vaccinated.

A Department of Health spokesperson told us that agency staff had been working to link both first and second doses to individual residents, and were removing duplicated data that resulted from providers using software that did not include a unique patient identifier or uploading duplicate data, or people getting first and second doses from different providers.  The data should now more accurately reflect the number of people who have received the first of a two-dose vaccine.

Friday’s data showed just under 11.3 million total vaccine doses, down from Thursday’s figure of 11.8 million. It also showed over 5.5 million people fully vaccinated, up 64,000 from Thursday’s figure.

Transmission rates in Pennsylvania have remained stable after a long decline during the spring as more people got vaccinated.  The number of new virus cases reported for the seven-day period ending on July 8 was 878, up from 869 a week earlier, according to the state Health Department, which also says the daily average of virus hospitalizations for the same time frame is down to 290.6 from 325. And the number COVID-19 deaths reported since the start of the outbreak as of Sunday, July 11, was 27,749, which is an increase of 42 compared to the total reported on July 4; that’s a sizable week-over-week decline from the increase of 138 reported a week earlier, reflecting the continued decline in hospitalized virus cases.

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.

For the seven-day period ending on July 8, 27 of the state’s 67 counties reported a week-over-week increase in new virus cases (up from 20 last week), with the combined total being 154 (up from 73 last week), with the largest week-over-week increase being 25 in Philadelphia; three of the top-five growth areas were Philadelphia, Bucks (+21) and Montgomery (+15) counties, with the other two being Lehigh (+16) and Wayne (+16) counties. Twenty-one counties had a week-over-week increases of 5 or fewer, with 15 having increases of three or fewer cases.

All but two (up from one last week) of the state’s 67 counties had a virus test percent positivity below the five-percent threshold, suggesting virus transmission in much of the state remains at a low level, though roughly 38 counties did report some amount of increase in positivity compared to a week ago. The two counties above the threshold are Cameron County (8.3 percent, up from 7.1 percent last week) and Potter County (6.5 percent, up from 4 percent last week); both counties’ sizable jumps in positivity during the last two weeks is an example of the volatility less-populated counties (Cameron County is Pennsylvania’s least-populated county, with less than 5,000 residents, and Potter County has between 16,000 and 17,000 residents) will experience regarding positivity figures, even with small changes in case totals, as Potter County reported a week-over-week growth in cases of one case while Cameron County experienced no growth.

Pennsylvania’s percent positivity currently ranks it 12th in the nation, according to data presented by Johns Hopkins University of Medicine. Thirty-four states were below five-percent positivity as of early Sunday morning.

Without substantial new cases reported during the past several weeks, virus-related hospitalizations continue to drop.  The seven-day virus hospitalization average for the period ending on July 8 was already mentioned as having again dropped, and the 14-day average is showing the same ongoing trend, with the average as of Sunday, July 11, down to 297.6, which puts that total at another new low since the start of the pandemic.

The daily hospitalization figure as of Sunday was 267, down 32 from a week earlier, while those needing care in an intensive care unit (ICU) bed totaled 58 on Sunday, which is an increase of seven compared to a week ago, with 39 individuals on a ventilator, down from 47 last week.  More data is available here.

Currently, 97 percent of the 1,214,320 confirmed and probable cases reported since the start of the outbreak have recovered, which is defined by the 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. The latest recovery percentage is no change from the last two weeks.