The rates of new coronavirus cases remained stable in Pennsylvania and in Lancaster County in the past week as the new school year got underway for many students.
But some counties, including Columbia and Adams, saw sharp spikes in new cases as student outbreaks hit college campuses.
Overall, Pennsylvania recorded 4,551 new cases of COVID-19 from Aug. 25 through 31, which translates to a seven-day rate of 36 new cases per 100,000 population. That’s the same rate as the previous seven days, and lower than the 42 new cases per 100,000 in the Aug. 11 through 17 period.
Lancaster County, meanwhile, recorded 252 new cases in the past seven days, for a rate of 46 new cases per 100,000 population. That was unchanged from the two previous seven-day periods.
Rates of new cases are being especially scrutinized at the moment because many schools and colleges are resuming classes, and some have reported outbreaks of COVID-19.
If school activities result in significant numbers of new cases in numerous areas, it could lead to wider community spread and put the state back on an overall upward trajectory.
In fact, student outbreaks have caused sharp spikes in county-level data in some areas.
One of those areas is Columbia County, where new cases at Bloomsburg University helped to give the county the state’s highest per-capita rate of new cases in the past week and forced the school to shift to remote learning.
Columbia County reported 138 new cases over seven days, up from 35 the previous week. Many of those new cases have been at Bloomsburg, which has reported at least 119 cases since Aug. 14.
Meanwhile, an outbreak at Gettysburg College helped to give Adams County the state’s second-highest per-capita rate of new cases in the past week. The college said it is quarantining infected students.
Adams reported 72 new cases over seven days, up from 22 in the previous seven-day period. Gettysburg College has reported 33 new student cases since Aug. 23.
Lancaster County stable for now
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Lancaster County’s stable rate of new cases ranked it 12th among the state’s 67 counties, and so far only small numbers of cases have been reported on local college campuses.
Three of Lancaster’s neighbors — Dauphin, York and Berks — ranked in the top 10 in rates of new cases.
Here are the 10 counties with the highest per-capita rates of new coronavirus cases for the seven-day period of Aug. 25 through 31, and how that rate compares with the previous seven days. Rates are new cases per 100,000 population.
Seven of the top-10 counties saw increases from the prior week, and three saw decreases.
1) Columbia: 212 (up from 54)
2) Adams: 70 (up from 21)
3) Dauphin: 66 (up from 54)
4) Beaver: 65 (up from 57)
5) Northumberland: 55 (down from 62)
6) Snyder: 54 (up from 45)
7) York: 52 (up from 51)
8) Mifflin: 50 (up from 26)
9) Berks: 50 (down from 58)
10) Susquehanna: 50 (down from 64)