COVID-19 transmission remains high or substantial across Pennsylvania, according to the latest update from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As of Thursday, all counties were considered at “high” levels of community transmission except four — Forest, Greene, Somerset and Juniata, which were at “substantial” levels.
In addition, 23 counties across the commonwealth were scored “high” under the CDC’s COVID community levels — a separate metric from the transmission levels.
In counties scored at high COVID-19 community levels, the federal health agency recommends universal masking in indoor, public places.
Wednesday, Pennsylvania officials announced more than 27,000 new cases across the state in the prior week, the highest levels seen since mid-February, TribLive reported.
Rising case numbers in Centre County, including a sharp increase in State College Area schools, caused school officials to “strongly” recommend masking and other health measures to slow the spread.
The recommendation came with no new mandates.
COVID transmission levels by county in Pennsylvania
The CDC’s community transmission levels are calculated using data on the number of new cases per 100,000 people and the percentage of positive NAAT (nucleic acid amplification test) tests, both over the last seven days.
Even more infectious subvariants of the highly contagious omicron variant are dominating in the U.S., driving up cases and transmission levels. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Thursday that researchers at the University of Pittsburgh had discovered yet another subvariant working through the western part of the state.
COVID community levels by county in Pennsylvania
Under the separate community levels scoring, Centre County remains at a “low” level, according to the CDC’s Thursday update.
Twenty-three counties, however, were scored high. Those are Erie, Warren, Elk, Cameron, Potter, Clinton, Tioga, Lycoming, Bradford, Sullivan, Columbia, Montour, Susquehanna, Wyoming, Luzerne, Monroe, Carbon, Northhampton, Lehigh, Bucks, Montgomery, Chester and Delaware counties.
The community levels are determined weekly using three data sets — new COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100,000 people in the past seven days, new cases per 100,000 in the past seven days and percent of available COVID hospital beds occupied.
Masking and other health recommendations for individuals are as follows under the community levels:
Low: Stay up to date on vaccinations and boosters, get tested if you have symptoms.
Medium: If you are considered high risk, consider masking in public, stay up to date on vaccinations and boosters, get tested if you have symptoms.
High: Wear a mask in indoor, public places, stay up to date on vaccinations and boosters, get tested if you have symptoms, take extra precautions around high-risk individuals.
Individuals can mask at any time, regardless of their county’s community level, the CDC reminds. Those with symptoms, who have tested positive or have been exposed, should mask in public at all times.