Mar. 30—Schuylkill County has moved back into the "substantial" level of COVID-19 transmission, according to state Department of Health data.
Many counties had dropped to the moderate level after the holiday spike of cases, but four more jumped to substantial the week ending March 19 and another 10, including Schuylkill, moved up for the week ending Thursday.
"We're certainly concerned as the numbers are going up. They're going up across the commonwealth and across the nation," John Matz, Schuylkill County Emergency Management Agency coordinator, said Tuesday. "It dropped dramatically from mid-January to about two weeks ago, but now the numbers have started to go up again."
He said he's not sure what is contributing to the increase, but noted it could have been activities surrounding St. Patrick's Day.
"We're just hoping that everyone will continue to be cautious and continue to seek vaccines," he said.
Positivity up, too
Designations of substantial, moderate and low have corresponding instructional models recommended by Pennsylvania's Departments of Health and Education and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Substantial calls for blended learning for elementary only or full remote learning; moderate calls for blended learning; and low allows full in-person learning.
There are now 35 counties at substantial, defined as an incident rate of more than 100 cases per 100,000 people or more than 10% positivity; 26 in moderate, or 10 to 100 cases per 100,000 or 5% to 10% positivity; and six in low, which is less than 10 per 100,000 and less than 5% positivity.
Teetering on the substantial level at 99 cases per 100,000 for the week ending March 19, Schuylkill County's incident rate rose to 147.9 for the seven-day period ending Thursday. The state's rose from 114.3 to 139.1.
Schuylkill had been in the moderate level since the week ending Feb. 26, after having been at substantial every week since the week ending Oct. 16.
Schuylkill qualifies for the substantial designation on the percent positivity level, too, with a rate of 11.4% last week, growing from 8.2% and 6.3% the previous weeks. The percentage of people testing positive also rose in the state last week, from 6.5% to 7.6%.
Statewide, there were 3,179 more cases, 17,811 in all, than the week prior. Schuylkill County also saw higher numbers: 209 cases in the week ending Thursday compared to 140 the week prior.
The 14-day moving average of daily hospitalizations was higher for the state, 1,633.1 compared to 1,479.2; and the county, 15.9 compared to 13.4. Both numbers had fallen the week prior.
Statewide, there were 5,032 additional positive cases reported Tuesday, taking the total to 1,020,300. As of 11:59 p.m. Monday, there were 34 new deaths identified by the Pennsylvania death registry for a total of 25,049.
Schuylkill County's case numbers rose 42 Tuesday to 12,794. An additional death takes that total to 382.
Statewide, there were 1,916 people hospitalized with COVID-19, including 389 in the intensive care unit. Schuylkill County had 16 hospitalized, seven of those in intensive care.
The Schuylkill County human resources department reported Tuesday that it has been notified that four employees have tested positive and are in isolation. No additional employees needed to quarantine from those cases, though one employee has been required to quarantine due to exposures to other persons who have tested positive.
Vaccine providers have administered 5,043,676 vaccine doses as of Tuesday, with 1,781,870 people fully vaccinated and 1,599,860 partially vaccinated. Tuesday's total is 732,558 doses more than eight days prior.
In Schuylkill County, 22,287 people are fully vaccinated and 17,641 are partially vaccinated, according to the department. Those numbers represent about 28% of the county population, up from 24% eight days prior.