Cases of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania have significantly surged in the past month. This data has mostly been collected to report either the total number of new cases each week or the positivity rate in a county, especially in southeastern Pennsylvania, which has become a region struggling with the virus similar to when the virus first hit the state last year.
Cases have risen to numbers we haven’t seen since December and January, which seems odd to the public when you look at the growing number of people getting vaccinated. The vaccine being so widely available and people easing up on their carefulness even when not getting vaccinated have opened up a new feeling of security in a lot of states, that in reality is leading to us losing our way as we face the hard truth that this virus is still an issue that hasn’t been completely tackled.
We’ve been seeing average weekly cases increase to the 5,000 to 7,000 range again with at one point on March 30th, a daily count of 15,691 was recorded that increased the seven-day average count to 7,188. On Friday, April 16, there was a reported 5,650 new cases, which marked that week being up 15 percent from the previous week, and up 88 percent from the previous month. It seems apparent that in April, the state just can’t seem to shake off adding on about 5,000 to 6,000 cases a day which is an eye-opening increase from February and most of March. According to a New York Times database, an average of 4,922 new daily cases has been reported in Pennsylvania, when it was just at 2,515 before the spike at the end of March.
The seven counties outside of Philadelphia comprising southeastern Pennsylvania have also been catching the attention of state health officials with the dense population in the region. The term, positivity rate, refers to the percentage of coronavirus tests that come back positive. The goal of the state is to always have the positivity rate in all counties and the overall state under 5 percent, even though a rise in percentage has touched mostly all counties over the past month. The statewide positivity rate was at 9.5 percent as of Monday, April 12th, which was a 2 percent increase from the previous week, further showing the state’s current struggle with the virus.
Not only do health officials think it’s because of the numerous places in the states with eased up restrictions, but that it’s also because of a new virus variant that could be surfacing throughout Pennsylvania. The U.K. variant and the New York variant have been suspected to be roaming the state, which is showing how even though they’re decreasing in New York and New Jersey, it’s been on an increase in Pennsylvania.
The Biden administration and Dr. Anthony Fauci have been the main messengers when it comes to telling the nation to not get too comfortable yet because of how
we aren’t quite at the finish line, and that continuing to wear masks and doing the little things to keep us safe is still essential. They stress how they don’t want us to grow content with the fact that only a certain amount of people are getting vaccinated, but how they’re looking to get everyone vaccinated throughout the summer to gain the social stability they want for the nation again.
“It really makes you skeptical while being in a Pennsylvania county and can be tough to get out of your head when viewing the statistics that’s constantly growing,” junior biology major and Pennsylvania native, Michaela Szupper, said. “Keeping hands clean, masks on faces when at public places, and continuing to distance ourselves from large crowds for now until we can get back on track and assure vaccine doses for everyone should be the focus right now.”
After a year of dealing with this pandemic, somewhat regaining a sense of stability, and then losing the ways we got adjusted to for months that decreased the numbers in the first place is something that’s going to put us back in a place we would rather not be, which is the case for some other countries.
Italy was hit hard by COVID-19 when it first began to wreak global havoc in the early portion of 2020, and as cases dropped throughout the year, the government and the people began to ease up as it felt like a problem that was significantly dealt with. They re-entered a lockdown last month as cases shot back up and more people were in danger like before. Fauci went on to bring this up about Italy and certain other parts of Europe and touched on how they pulled back on public health measures after seeing their case numbers plateau.
He and many health officials don’t want this to be the case with the states in this country, as taking steps backward when we’re already in the right direction is crucial as we’re trying to get adjusted to making this vaccine even more widely available. With these spikes occurring in a handful of states, it’ll be key to see how everything continues to play out and if more people will be comfortable getting vaccinated.