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Six Central Pennsylvania counties now in 'substantial spread' category of COVID-19 transmission

FOX43.com 04 August, 2021 - 06:56am

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PENNSYLVANIA, USA — Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, Lancaster, Lebanon and York Counties now fall into the substantial spread category defined by the CDC, which means people in these counties are asked to be wearing masks when inside public places even if they have been vaccinated. 

As of last week, Governor Tom Wolf said that he is not considering a statewide mask mandate as cases rise in the Commonwealth, leaving mask mandates up to individual counties. 

So far, none of the six counties in our area with substantial spread have implemented a county-wide indoor mask mandate. 

Scientists at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University are urging states to implement COVID-19 mitigation strategies lasting at least 3-4 weeks to help lessen COVID-19 spread. 

"Simple measures like masking mandates and restrictions on gatherings can have considerable impact on the number of cases and trajectory of infections,” said senior author Seema Lakdawala, Ph.D., associate professor in the Pitt School of Medicine’s Department of Microbiology & Molecular Genetics

“As we face an uptick in SARS-CoV-2 infections and suboptimal vaccination rates, it is important to identify strategies that can keep virus-related hospitalizations down.”

Scientists say, interventions like universal masking mandates, gathering restrictions, and restaurant and bar closures that were implemented between March 2021 and March 2022 were associated with fewer COVID-19 deaths. 

Of the 23 states that implemented a robust combination of the three measures mentioned above, only about 35% had a mortality rate above the national average. 

In contrast, of the 28 states with less stringent mitigation strategies, nearly 75% had a mortality rate exceeding the national average.

FOX43 reached out to county leaders with substantial spread to see if a mask mandate is being considered:

Larry George, Lancaster County: "There will be no changes to the County’s masking policy at this time. Employees and all visitors to County buildings are, of course, free to wear masks if they so choose."

Brett Hambright, Dauphin County Press Secretary: "We are not imposing mandates at this time. We recommend everyone follow CDC guidance. Dauphin County is monitoring the numbers and cases and are prepared to respond accordingly. Our EMA, specifically, approaches each day aware of the existing pandemic and is capable of response however needed. We have a process in place for any emergency services agency to have a supply of PPE equipment – gloves, gowns, masks, and shields. Our medical professionals/responders have and continue to use PPE for all emergency calls, which is standard practice, as it was pre-COVID. We continue to encourage folks to be educated on the vaccine and to make an appointment if they want a shot."

Governor Wolf has also encouraged Pennsylvanians to get the COVID-19 vaccine. 

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