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Blair virus cases surging

Weekend sees county reporting 223 new positive COVID-19 tests

Over the weekend, Blair County seems to have taken the lead from Centre County as the biggest local generator of coronavirus cases.

For the three days ending Monday, Blair totaled 223 positives, compared to 91 for Centre.

The last time Blair’s daily number exceeded Centre’s was Oct. 18, and that almost seemed an aberration.

Blair’s total number of positive cases has reached 1,529, second among area counties, though still far behind Centre’s 4,317.

Cambria has had 1,249 cases, Huntingdon 1,055, Clearfield 513 and Bedford 483.

Blair’s coronavirus death total, however, leads all local counties, at 32.

Centre is tied for second with Huntingdon at 19.

Cambria has 9, Bedford 8 and Clearfield 7.

Blair’s key numbers for the state Department of Health’s COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring System Dashboard are actually more favorable than Centre’s.

Blair’s positive test rate is 5.6%, while Centre’s is 6.1%.

And Blair’s incidence rate for the previous week — the number of new cases per 100,000 residents — was 134, compared to Centre’s 175.

All those numbers exceed the thresholds of concern, which for positivity is 5% and for incidence rates is 50.

The county with the most egregious early-warning dashboard numbers is Huntingdon, with 6.1% positivity and an incidence rate of 103.

The county with the next most concerning early-warning numbers is Bedford, with 8% positivity and an incidence rate of 78.

Clearfield has 5.8% positivity and an incidence rate of 54.

Cambria has 3.9% positivity and an incidence rate of 103.

Of all the key early-warning numbers for local counties, the only one below the threshold of concern is the positivity rate for Cambria.

Statewide, positivity is 6.1%, while the incidence rate is 103.

Forty of the 67 counties have a positivity rate over 5%, said Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine in a webcast news conference Monday.

That is 10 more counties than last week, Levine said.

Fifty-six counties have more cases in the most recent week than in the previous week, she said.

Statewide, there have been more than 1,000 new cases 28 days running, and more than 2,000 cases on five recent days, Levine noted.

Hospitalizations, which lag behind new cases statistically, have been steadily increasing for weeks, Levine said.

There were 1,267 COVID-19 patients in hospitals statewide Monday, Levine said.

Hospitalizations will continue to increase, she predicted.

But they numbered in the 3,000s in the spring, she said.

And deaths were far higher at that time.

“We’re nowhere near where we were in the spring,” she said. “We’re in much better shape.”

That is because of better medical care, therapeutics like Remdesivir and dexamethasone, a smart phone app that helps with contact tracing, a better contact tracing system, more testing, case distribution that is less concentrated among vulnerable older people and better protection for those older people, especially in nursing homes, thanks to collaboration with hospitals, Levine said.

It’s critical that people cooperate when case investigators and contact tracers get in touch with them, Levine said.

“Each of us has a collective responsibility,” she said. “You might save a life.”

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 814-381-3152.

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