Published On: Tue, Nov 24th, 2020

Covid situation in Bucks County deteriorating rapidly

The covid-19 picture in Bucks County has worsened to the point where health officials are giving up on contact tracing.

An unprecedented average of 296 new cases per day was reported last week – more than four times the rate of a month ago.

Seventeen more Bucks County COVID deaths were reported from Nov. 15–21. That brought the total deaths for the first three weeks of November to 32 – more than five times the deaths reported in all of October.

Hospitalizations also rose rapidly, with 46 Bucks residents being treated in hospitals as of Saturday – more than double the number of the week before. Three are on ventilators.

So great has the increase in new COVID cases been in Bucks that it has exceeded the county health department staff’s ability to investigate all of them, officials said.

Health Department Director Dr. David Damsker announced today that the county will be shifting to the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s case reporting system, reducing some of its overall contact tracing and focusing attention primarily on high-priority cases such as elderly and school-age patients.

No county health department, or the state Department of Health, is currently doing full contact tracing, but cases involving patients over the age of 60, particularly those in long-term care facilities, will be prioritized because of the increased vulnerability of the elderly to covid.

Of the 17 deaths reported last week, nine were residents of long-term care facilities. Six were in their 90s, two were in their 80s, five in their 70s, two in their 60s and two – a man and a woman – were age 33.

A total of 2,074 new covid cases from Bucks were reported to state health officials last week.

Among the new cases were 110 school-age children and nine school staff members. Of the students, 13 were receiving in-class instruction on a daily basis. About one-third are taking classes virtually at home and more than half are enrolled in hybrid programs. Of the infected staff members, four were working in schools on a daily basis.

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