Mask Up, Bucks

DOYLESTOWN >> COVID-19 cases continued to spike in Bucks County for a second straight week, though the county’s low number of hospitalizations and deaths remained largely unaffected.

The Bucks County Department of Health reported 465 additional infections from Oct. 25 – 31, an average of about 66 cases per day, or a 22 percent increase over the previous week.

It was the largest seven-day case total since the first week of May, when new infections averaged 85 per day.

That week in May was also especially lethal, with 71 Bucks County deaths reported and 195 residents hospitalized with COVID, 20 of them on ventilators. By comparison, one Bucks County death was reported last week, while 12 were hospitalized as of Saturday, two of them in critical condition and on ventilators.

“Even though our cases have doubled over the past two weeks, the overall numbers of seriously ill people have remained pretty much the same. That’s an excellent sign,” said Dr. David Damsker, director of the health department. “Another promising indicator is that, despite seeing some cases in teachers and students, reopened schools themselves are not contributing to levels of community spread.”

The spike in local cases was in keeping with pronounced increases across Pennsylvania and the nation.

On Friday, the United States recorded 99,321 new cases – not only a record for the nation, but also for any nation on a single day during the pandemic. More than 1,000 deaths also were reported Friday.

Pennsylvania was a substantial contributor to the national spike. The state exceeded 2,500 new cases for the first time on Friday, set a record seven-day average of almost 2,100 per day, and more than doubled last month’s daily average.

“Daily increases are now the highest they have ever been since the start of the pandemic,” the Pennsylvania Department of Health warned. A majority of other states were in similar straits.

Yet at the same time, improved techniques for treating patients, including the use of certain steroids and antiviral drugs, have been credited with sharply lowering the rate of serious cases and deaths. Statewide, the death rate has fallen from 12.2 per 100 cases in May to 1.4 deaths per 100 cases in October.

In that regard, Pennsylvania is in a “much better place than we were in the spring,” said state Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine, adding that the state is not considering dramatic shutdown measures such as those imposed in the spring.

Twenty-seven of the Bucks County cases reported last week were delayed reports no longer considered to be infectious.

Of the 465 cases reported by the health department, 200 resulted from household spread and social gatherings with friends and family, 104 were attributed to community spread, 37 were infected at workplaces, 28 resulted from out-of-state travel, 18 are healthcare workers, 15 are residents or staff at long-term care facilities, and 63 were unable to be reached or to be fully interviewed.

Through Saturday, Bucks County has had 9,807 residents test positive for COVID-19 during the pandemic. A total of 536 deaths have been attributed to the virus, including 416 long-term care residents, while 8,620 are confirmed to have recovered.

The median age of those who have been infected in Bucks is 48, while the median age of death is 84.

Statistics, charts and other coronavirus-related information can be found on the county’s data portal: https://covid19-bucksgis.hub.arcgis.com.

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