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Bucks covid case count increases as fall surge hits Pennsylvania

The fall surge of covid-19 has hit Pennsylvania, state officials said this week.

The county’s new case numbers for Oct. 11-17 totaled 265, an average of almost 38 per day, and 36 more than last week’s total of 229.

Health officials announcing the rise in new infections struggled to find a silver lining.

“While Bucks County’s case count increased by an average of about five per day last week, the numbers do not approach the April-like increases seen elsewhere in Pennsylvania,” they said in a press release. “Hospitalizations remain lower than at any time since the March outset of the pandemic here.”

Monday marked the 14th consecutive day in which Pennsylvania’s case counts increased by more than 1,000 per day. New cases have averaged 1,238 over the past week, a 7 percent increase preceded by a 16 percent increase the week before.

“The fall resurgence is here,” Gov. Tom Wolf said at a news conference Monday, where he encouraged residents to renew efforts to wear masks, maintain social distancing and practice sanitation measures that have proven effective in slowing the virus.

“We didn’t exactly stop covid in its tracks last spring, but we did pretty well,” Wolf said. “We can do this again, to stop this fall resurgence.”

Pennsylvania Department of Health Director Dr. Rachel Levine said last week that college-age students no longer are the primary cause of the increasing numbers, that spikes also are being seen among people in their 20s, 30s and 40s.

The leading cause of new cases in Bucks County continues to be household spread and social gatherings with friends and family, a category which has notched up steadily in recent weeks and now accounts for 48 percent of new infections over the past week.

Levine also announced last week that the number of covid-19 patients hospitalized across the state has nearly doubled since last month. But only five Bucks County residents were hospitalized as of Saturday, none of them in critical condition or on ventilators.

“Our hospitalizations remain low, as our local hospitals are doing a fantastic job treating the sicker patients and keeping stays as short as possible,” said Dr. David Damsker, director of the Bucks County Health Department. “Because of that, it’s a better situation as compared to March and April, and we need to continue focusing on keeping the virus out of places like long-term care facilities.”

The county’s seven-day positivity rate increased slightly to 3.1 percent of those tested, compared to 2.8 percent the previous week. That compares favorably to the statewide positivity rate, which increased to 4.3 percent last week from 3.9 percent the week before.

Bucks County reported two covid deaths last week, the third and fourth residents to die in October. Both were women, ages 69 and 92, both with underlying health conditions.

Twenty-four of last week’s Bucks County cases were delayed reports no longer considered to be infectious, the health department reported.

Of the 265 cases in Bucks last week, 128 were traced to household contacts and 50 to community spread. Twenty-seven resulted from out-of-state travel, 13 were spread at non-healthcare workplaces, eight are healthcare workers, three are residents or workers at long-term care facilities, and 36 were unable to complete a full interview immediately.


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