State Adds 492 COVID Cases, County Daily Rate Highest Since Red Phase, Numbers Don't Track Testing
HARRISBURG (JUN 29 2020) - The Pennsylvania Department of Health reported that as of 12:01 am this morning, Pennsylvania had 492 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the statewide total to 85,988. The department reported eight additional deaths, bringing the total to 6,614 in the commonwealth. This is the 11th day in a row that the state has added at least 450 new cases. Monroe County has a total of 1409 cases, an increase of 5 over yesterday, with 108 deaths, No additional deaths were reported in the county. While the county's rate of new cases remains within the so-called "inter-epidemic" range of fewer than 50 new cases per 100,000 residents in a two week period, the rate of new cases has gone steadily up for the last two weeks. On June 13 and 14, the seven-day average of new COVID cases in the county was 1.28 a day. Starting on the 15th, shortly before the county went green on the 19th, the number of new cases has risen, with the county adding ten new cases on Saturday, the first double-digit increase since May 14, when the county added 12 new cases. At that time, the county was still in the red phase and averaging 6.28 cases a day.
As of today's report, the county's seven day total of new cases is 31, resulting in a seven-day average of 4.43. This is the highest daily average of new cases since before the county left the red phase. The state testing data lags by a couple of weeks and is updated only weekly. Looking at the last three weeks of testing data available, there is no discernible pattern between testing increases and positive case increases. For the weeks ending June 2, 9, and 16, the state reported 91,508, 80,826, and 88,853 weekly tests respectively. In those same weeks, the state added 4,708, 3,542, and 3,047 cases.
Comparing the weeks of June 9 and 16, the number of tests increased ten percent, but the number of new cases decreased 14%. Comparing the weeks of June 2 and 9 similarly lacks any correlation between testing and cases. During the week ending June 9, the state reported 12% fewer tests, but 25% fewer cases. Comparing June 2 to June 9 shows that despite performing only 3% fewer tests, 35% fewer cases were identified.
According to Department of Health spokesperson Nate Wardle, in June, the state has been testing roughly an average of 12,000 per day, or 84,000 a week. With the rate of testing being fairly consistent, more cases identified seems to be the product of the fact that there are more cases in the general population, than simply that there are more tests. As the chart above demonstrates, there is a lack of direct or consistent correlation between testing alone and the number of new cases.