MONTGOMERY COUNTY, PA — While the fall coronavirus surge is chiefly attributed to cooler weather and more time spent indoors, officials say that decisions made by both institutions and individuals have also been instrumental in foiling suppression.
One string of cases in Montgomery County was traced to a recent recreational event which was held at a private school in Philadelphia. The event occurred even though school officials and participating students knew of a recent outbreak in the school.
A student from Montgomery County attended the event, and became contagious without showing symptoms, according to Commissioner Val Arkoosh. Not knowing he was infected, he attended a different recreational event in Montgomery County days later, passing the virus on to at least five adults.
Two of those five adults were coaches of youth sports teams, Arkoosh said. Those two coaches then spread it to children on their teams.
"This is an illustration of quickly this can spread, how individuals who are contagious, who don't have symptoms, can infect a number of individuals," Arkoosh said. "And how those individuals can continue to spread the virus."
The county did not specify the nature of the event in Philadelphia or provide details on where the spread occurred in this instance in Montgomery County. But transmission has been everywhere, especially in schools that have reopened.
There have been a total of 564 "close contacts" with the virus in schools that have reopened across the county thus far this school year, officials said Wednesday. They did not say how many of those individuals had tested positive.
The number was a result of the county's robust contact tracing program. A close contact is defined as any student who is within six feet of a student who is infected.
Where these contacts take place largely depends on the school. Many schools are large enough, or have been able to plan their reopens carefully enough, that students are almost always six feet away from one another in classrooms.
However, there are many places where this is impossible. One infected student could easily become a "close contact" for dozens throughout a single school day, officials note.