WARREN, Pa. – A recent surge of COVID-19 cases within Warren County has moved the county into the “substantial” tier of community transmission, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s weekly update Monday.
The county had three more confirmed cases added to its cumulative total Sunday, while one of the confirmed cases reported Saturday was removed, according to Monday’s update. That brings the county cumulative total to 165 cases, 143 confirmed and 22 probable.
Warren had been in the “low” tier from July until the Nov. 9 update, when it moved to “moderate.” It took just two weeks to move to “substantial.”
From Nov. 10 through Nov. 20, Warren County added 66 new cases. From March 24 through Oct. 31, the county had a total of 71 cases.
The state introduced the transmission levels in July as a way to measure community spread of COVID-19. The tiers are based on incidence rate per 100,000 residents and PCR percent positivity over a 7-day period.
Those counties with “low” levels of community transmission have less than 10 incidents per 100,000 and less than five percent PCR positivity. “Moderate” levels are between 10 and 99 incidents per 100,000 or five to 10 percent PCR positivity. Those with “substantial” transmission have 100 or more incidents per 100,000 or more than 10 percent PCR positivity.
The Pennsylvania Department of Education encouraged schools to use the levels as part of determining whether to have full in-school learning, remote learning or a blended learning model. Based on the PDE recommendations, districts in counties with “low” transmission are recommended to use full in-person or blended learning. Districts in counties with “moderate” levels are recommended for blended or full remote learning and those districts in counties with “substantial” levels are recommended for full remote learning.
Warren County School District Superintendent Amy Stewart said at the district’s Board of Directors meeting Nov. 9, that the district isn’t relying solely on the state’s data to determine whether school buildings need to close.
“We did have one positive case within those 11 (from Nov. 1-6), but that’s what makes it really difficult to look at the numbers and try to draw meaning from them,” Stewart said during the meeting. “Because those numbers can come in real time, or they could be two weeks old by the time they get here. That’s not anybody’s fault, it’s just the backlog.”
As such, the district added a section to its Health and Safety Phased Reopening Plan to account for the disparity between the state’s updates and real time numbers.
“The WCSD Pandemic Team will track and monitor COVID data closely to determine if closure is necessary based upon local data. The data recorded by the State is not always accurate, hits the data base at unpredictable times, and is not reflective of what is really happening in real time in the schools. In addition, since the WCSD is a county-wide district, local data will assist in making decisions by attendance areas and schools. When at all possible, the District will work with the Department of Health and / or County Public Safety to contact trace in an effort to have the appropriate individuals quarantined as opposed to a full closure.”
In a recent conversation with Your Daily Local, Stewart said the district is trying to keep students in school.
“As long as we keep doing what we’re doing, quarantining the right people, we believe we’ll be able to keep going,” Stewart said. “Everyone has to do their part.”
Warren County still has just a single reported COVID-19 death, June 28.
The cumulative case count includes those cases the state considers “recovered.”
A case is considered recovered “if a case has not been reported as a death, and it is more than 30 days past the date of their first positive test (or onset of symptoms) then an individual is considered recovered,” according to the Department of Health.