State of coronavirus in Pennsylvania: Where do the counties rank?

Last Friday marked the first time the state Department of Health reported daily cases of more than 1,000 since May.

  • By Wallace McKelvey/PennLive

With Pennsylvania nearing 100,000 coronavirus cases amid a resurgence nationwide, now is a good time to review where we are and how we got here.

The state succeeded in flattening the curve after an initial spike in April. Friday, however, marked the first time the state Department of Health reported daily cases of more than 1,000 since May.

A lot of this recent growth is driven by a spike in cases in Pittsburgh and the surrounding suburbs, although several central Pennsylvania counties — notably Lancaster County, home to a number of nursing homes hit hard by the virus — struggled to flatten their own local curves.

The following tables and graphs lay out some of the leading indicators public health experts use to gauge the spread of the disease. Per capita rates help show how prevalent COVID-19 is in counties that may vary a great deal by population.

The following tables and graphs lay out some of the leading indicators public health experts use to gauge the spread of the disease. Per capita rates help show how prevalent COVID-19 is in counties that may vary a great deal by population.

We’ve included the top 5 counties for each indicator, as well as figures for the counties within The Patriot-News’ distribution area, the statewide average and Allegheny County, which state health officials are monitoring as the possible epicenter of a new outbreak.

Cases per 100,000 residents (total cases; confirmed cases in most recent 7 days)

1. Philadelphia, 1,460 (23,128; 779)

2. Delaware, 1,346 (7,606; 208)

3. Lehigh, 1,208 (4,450; 100)

4. Northampton, 1,167 (3,558; 64)

5. Berks, 1,121 (4,710; 96)

Lebanon, 1,043 (1,474; 46)

Lancaster, 897.1 (4,876; 238)

Dauphin, 833.3 (2,309; 103)

Statewide, 757.8 (96,671; 4,914)

Allegheny, 440.2 (5,364; 1,243)

York, 417.6 (1,872; 218)

Cumberland, 382.2 (961; 57)

Perry, 205.9 (95; 4)

Centre, 155.4 (253; 21)

 

Death rate per 100,000 residents (total deaths)

1. Delaware, 105.7 (597)

2. Philadelphia, 89.6 (1,420)

3. Lackawanna, 88.7 (187)

4. Montgomery, 87.5 (725)

5. Bucks, 84.2 (529)

Lancaster, 58.5 (318)

Statewide, 48.0 (5,943)

Dauphin, 32.8 (91)

Lebanon, 26.2 (37)

Cumberland, 22.7 (57)

Allegheny, 13.8 (168)

York, 6.5 (29)

Perry, 6.5 (3)

Centre, 4.3 (7)

Nursing homes as percentage of positive cases (total nursing home cases; total nursing home deaths)

1. Susquehanna, 67 percent (131; 30)

2. Beaver, 52 percent (451; 83)

3. Lackawanna, 48 percent (854; 208)

4. Lycoming, 43 percent (108; 25)

5. Cumberland, 43 percent (416; 70)

Dauphin, 32 percent (735; 126)

Lancaster, 30 percent (1,468; 262)

Statewide, 23 percent (21,820; 4,712)

Lebanon, 17 percent (250; 34)

York, 16 percent (301; 34)

Centre, 16 percent (41; 6)

Allegheny, 15 percent (777; 155)

Perry, none reported

Testing rates show how much testing capacity a given county has right now, although it’s not necessarily an indicator of what percentage of residents have been tested since individuals may be tested multiple times. The counties with the greatest level of testing per capita happen to be those at the center of this spring’s outbreaks.

Montour County, among the least populous in the state, reported the greatest concentration of testing and the lowest total percentage of positive tests. Less than 2 percent of tests came back positive.

Tests per 100,000 residents (total tests)

1. Montour, 27,637 (5,041)

2. Northampton, 10,334 (31,499)

3. Montgomery, 9,398 (77,880)

4. Philadelphia, 9,391 (148,777)

5. Delaware, 9,288 (52,459)

Dauphin, 8,489 (23,523)

Lebanon, 8,159 (11,531)

Lancaster, 7,753 (42,142)

Statewide, 7,402 (940,488)

Allegheny, 6,923 (84,358)

York, 6,420 (28,780)

Cumberland, 5,904 (14,845)

Perry, 4,553 (2,101)

Centre, 3,699 (6,023)

A county’s positivity rate is one indicator of how much of a disease’s spread is being detected through testing. A high positivity rate may indicate the state was only testing the sickest patients, according to Johns Hopkins University of Medicine. A lower rate is a sign that public health officials have enough data to make informed decisions about how to reopen and to deploy resources. In general, health experts are looking for a positivity rate of less than 5 percent. Thus, the rates seen right now in western Pennsylvania may be troubling.

One important note: Sullivan County only reported 16 total tests during the seven days used to calculate the current positivity rate. With such a low sample size, it’s difficult to draw any conclusions (good or bad) about how far or fast the virus is spreading in that county.

Average positivity rate, July 3-July 9 (rate among all tests since the epidemic began)

1. Sullivan, 13.8 percent (4.5)

2. Clarion, 13.5 percent (4.9)

3. Allegheny, 9.9 percent (6.8)

4. Lawrence, 9.2 percent (5.4)

5. Beaver, 9.1 percent (10.7)

Dauphin, 6.6 percent (10.9)

York, 6.4 percent (7.0)

Lebanon, 6.2 percent (14.7)

Lancaster, 5.8 percent (13.1)

STATEWIDE, 5.3 percent (5.4)

Philadelphia, 5.3 percent (18.4)

Centre, 3.7 percent (4.4)

Cumberland, 3.6 percent (6.9)

Perry, 1.3 percent (4.7)

PennLive and The Patriot-News are partners with PA Post.

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