DOYLESTOWN >> The Bucks County Health Department on May 14 announced 58 new positive cases of COVID-19 and 11 deaths, two of which dated back to April.
Health Director Dr. David Damsker said the numbers, which have declined compared to recent weeks, are a reflection of compliance with social distancing measures. He warned, however, that state-ordered mass testing at long-term care facilities could result in the amount of new positive cases fluctuating again.
“If you look at the epidemiological curve, you see the numbers coming down, and we hope that what we are seeing is a trend,” Damsker said at an online news conference. “But because there are certain situations at long-term care facilities that are doing mass testing, we could see some numbers bumping up. But we do think the overall numbers of community-type spread cases – either household contacts or pure community spread – seem to be leveling off over the last week or two.”
Twenty-three of the new cases reported on May 14 were residents of long-term care facilities, three were staff workers, nine were spread through household contacts, six are healthcare workers, three were infected at other lines of work, and four were attributed to pure community spread. Contact tracers were unable to interview 11 of the new cases.
Those who died ranged in age from 93 to 56, and all had underlying health conditions. Nine of the 11 lived in long-term care facilities.
A total of 181 patients are hospitalized, 24 of them in critical condition and on ventilators. Of Bucks County’s 4,190 total COVID-19 cases, 1,162 are confirmed to have recovered.
At the news conference, the commissioners said county government buildings will reopen to the public on Monday, May 18 on an appointment-only basis. Employees and visitors will be required to wear face masks and practice social distancing measures. All county employees were offered the option of being tested last week before many of them return to their offices after working remotely from home.
Damsker said 85 county employees are known to have tested positive for COVID-19, most of them workers at the county-owned Neshaminy Manor Nursing Home or the Bucks County Correctional Facility. None has died.
“There’s only a handful of (employees) that have COVID who are not from one of those two facilities, and you can imagine why that is the case,” he said. “They are operating in the highest-risk category of anyone in the county, and that’s been over the last couple of months.”
Damsker said that while restrictions placed on Bucks County during Gov. Tom Wolf’s stay-at-home order have helped flatten the curve of infection, residents must remain compliant with social distancing measures when the county moves into Wolf’s “yellow” stage of partial reopening. Wolf has not indicated when he might ease the restrictions here.
“We understand that when we move to yellow, and hopefully that will be soon, we may see an increased number of cases,” he said. “However, if everyone follows the rules that we’ve put out there, the masking and the social distancing … these are really important to blunt a second wave. It can be very manageable, but we need everyone’s cooperation to do that.”
Statistics, charts and other coronavirus-related information can be found on the county’s data portal: https://covid19-bucksgis.hub.arcgis.com. An interactive Bucks County map showing numbers of active infections by municipality can be found here.