As County Nears "Substantial" Transmission Rate, PMSD Reports Four Positive COVID Cases
Monroe County is on the verge of being classified as once-again having "substantial" community transmission of the coronavirus. In addition to the impact on public health and strain on health care services, a consequence of entering a substantial community transmission phase would be the potential closure of the county's schools. Under the guidance issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (DOE), prepared in accordance with the White House Cornavirus Task Force recommendations, when a county enters the substantial transmission phase, in-person learning should be discontinued until the county experiences at least two seven-day periods of moderate or low transmission.
To determine the level of transmission in a county, the DOE looks at the positivity rate and the incidence rate of infection. The positivity rate is the percent of positive coronavirus test results in the seven-day period. The incidence rate is the number of people infected per 100,000 population.
Under the DOE guidelines, if the county incidence rate is 100 or more, or if the positivity rate is over ten percent, then the districts in the county would need to move back to full-remote learning. According to the most recent Pennsylvania Department of Health Early Warning Dashboard for the County, for the seven-day period ending Thursday, November 5, the positivity rate for Monroe County was 8.2% and the incidence rate 96.8 - more than double the prior week's rate.
In the seven days following November 5, Monroe County added 231 new cases, a seven-day incidence rate of approximately 136. The DOE model appears to allow school districts to wait to act until there are two consecutive weeks of substantial transmission.
The Pocono Mountain School District's Health and Safety Plan for the 2020-21 School Year indicates that it would revert to all-remote learning once the county is classified as having substantial transmission of the virus. The PMSD has four staff and students who are currently positive for the coronavirus. This includes one student added today who has not attended in-person classes. In addition, they have one custodian, one coach/advisor, and one bus driver who are now positive for the coronavirus. The PMSD did not respond to a request for comment.