Franklin County COVID rise 'concerning'

Shelly Stallsmith
York Daily Record

Several counties in central Pennsylvania — including Franklin County — are going in the wrong direction when it comes to COVID-19 data.

Gov. Tom Wolf’s weekly status update from July 17 to 23 showed that Franklin (7.7%), York (5.4%) and Dauphin (5.3%) are among 14 counties that are listed as having “concerning percent-positivity.”

The updates are part of the Early Warning Monitoring System Dashboard that is designed to provide “warning signs of factors that affect the state’s mitigation efforts.” Those factors include week-over-week case differences, incidence rates, test percent-positivity and rates of hospitalizations, ventilations and emergency room visits tied to COVID-19.

Franklin County numbers 

As of Sunday morning, there were 1,140 confirmed cases in Franklin County and 46 deaths.

Nearly half of the deaths — 26 — were in nursing homes, where the Pennsylvania Department of Health's website indicated 136 residents and 28 employees have tested positive.

The state's COVID-19 ZIP code map shows that the majority of confirmed cases are in the Chambersburg area, with 560 in the 17201 zip code and 202 in 17202.

Other numbers by ZIP code include Waynesboro, 87; Blue Ridge Summit, zero; Mont Alto, 12; Greencastle, 62; Fayetteville, 95, Mercersburg, 32; Fort Loudon, 11; and St. Thomas, 9.

The map does not include deaths by ZIP code or positive cases in some smaller postal areas.

Across the state 

The state’s percent-positivity increased from 4.4% to 4.7% last week. Other counties on the rise were Beaver (8.7%), Armstrong (8.6%), Mercer (7.6%), Allegheny (6.6%), Lawrence (6.2%), Chester (6.0%), Philadelphia (5.6%), Fayette (5.4%), Delaware (5.3%), Bedford (5.1%) and Greene (5.1%).

Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine has been saying for weeks that has Pennsylvania increases its testing, the number of positive results was expected. But it was hoped that the positivity percentage would remain the same, or decrease.

She was right about the number of positive tests.

As of Thursday, Pennsylvania has seen a seven-day increase of 5,912, the previous seven-day increase was 5,579.

Friday saw an increase of more than 1,200 positive cases, the highest single-day increase in more than two months.

The positivity-percentage piece of the dashboard is what has officials concerned.

“The mitigation efforts we took last week were a proactive step to get in front of the rise of cases that we are continuing to see,” Wolf said. “We know that it will take a period of time for the mitigation efforts to be reflected in the data. One thing we know for certain is that we must continue to wear masks and practice social distancing.”

He said Pennsylvanians must recommit to wearing masks in public and social distancing to stem the latest surge.

The latest data shows that a significant number of recent cases have been linked to travel, which is why officials have recommended people self-quarantine for 14 days if they visit certain states. Wolf added Wyoming and Missouri to that list on Friday, which brings the total number to 14.


Echo Pilot reporter Shawn Hardy contributed to this article.