Mask Up, Bucks

DOYLESTOWN >> Bucks County’s weekly COVID-19 case count declined last week, while Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine on Sept. 14 called on college students to follow safety guidelines to help limit the spread of coronavirus.

COVID-19 cases have generally risen throughout the state in recent weeks, a trend Levine attributed to colleges and universities being back in session.

Students, Levine said, are “uniquely in a position to help change the course of the spread of this virus. What happens on campus has a direct impact on what happens off campus, and if the virus spreads among students, it will invariably spread to other places in the community.”

Levine pointed to North Central Pennsylvania, where 19- to 24-year-olds accounted for seven percent of cases in April, but 69 percent of cases so far in September. The region includes Penn State’s main campus and other universities.

Northeast Pennsylvania posted a similar spike among the same age group, moving from six percent of cases in April to 40 percent in September, Levine said.

Bucks County also posted a sharp increase in COVID cases during the first week of the month, but those numbers declined last week, averaging 31 new infections per day compared to 35 the previous week.

Hospitalizations and deaths remain relatively low. Eight Bucks County residents are hospitalized with COVID – three in critical condition and on ventilators – and three deaths have been reported in September.

Like Levine, Bucks County Health Department Director Dr. David Damsker has attributed September’s higher infection numbers largely to college students and social gatherings. Over the past four days, those numbers have notched up again, averaging 36 cases per day.

“If not for social gatherings and college students becoming infected while socializing, Bucks County would have very few infections,” Damsker said. “People need to continue to take precautions in social settings by wearing masks and distancing themselves from others. If everyone did that, our numbers would be very low.”

From Friday, Sept. 11 through Monday, Sept. 14, 142 infections were confirmed, 15 of them delayed reports no longer considered to be infectious.

Of the 142 cases, 67 were spread among people sharing households, 19 were attributed to community spread, 15 were people infected out of state, eight were infected in workplaces, five are residents or workers at long-term care facilities, two are healthcare workers and 26 were unable to complete full interviews immediately.

Bucks County now has had 7,811 residents test positive for COVID-19 during the pandemic. A total of 524 deaths have been attributed to the virus, including 413 long-term care residents, while 6,903 are confirmed to have recovered.

The median age of those who have been infected in Bucks is 51, 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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