Pottstown Mercury: Montgomery County's coronavirus positivity rate remains stable
by Carl Hessler, Jr.
October 15, 2020
NORRISTOWN — While Pennsylvania health officials believe the state is “at the start of the fall resurgence” of COVID-19, Montgomery County’s current positivity rate remains stable, according to the latest data.
“The reason that our numbers are so low is because so many people in Montgomery County have been complying with the guidance. The two are absolutely connected. So many people who live and work in this county have been wearing masks, they’ve been doing their best to keep that six-foot of distance and they’ve been trying to minimize or avoid social gatherings,” county Commissioners’ Chairwoman Dr. Valerie Arkoosh said during a news briefing on Wednesday.
“It didn’t just happen magically. It happened because there’s been an enormous amount of sacrifice across this entire county for 32 weeks now,” added Arkoosh, who was joined at the news briefing by fellow Commissioner Kenneth E. Lawrence Jr.
The overall 14-day COVID-19 positivity rate for the county, as of Oct. 9, was 2.28%, according to data gathered by county health officials. That marked a slight increase from the 2.24% positivity rate recorded for the period ending Oct. 2.
Health officials believe having a positivity rate less than 5% indicates the county is controlling the spread of the virus and keeping it suppressed. The county has been below the 5% benchmark since June 18.
“Working together we continue to suppress viral spread here in the county but like many other parts of the Commonwealth, Montgomery County is seeing an increase in confirmed positive COVID-19 cases. Although the numbers aren’t going up at too quick of a pace, these numbers in the community are definitely starting to trend up,” Arkoosh said.
“This increase is partially due to more individuals being tested, which we strongly encourage. But it also serves as a reminder that as the weather gets cooler, we are likely to see increased transmission in our community,” Arkoosh added. “We must all continue to take common sense steps to reduce the spread of this very contagious virus.”
Arkoosh said one only has to look to northern states where it’s getting colder and people are spending more time inside or look at what’s occurring in a number of European countries “to see how quickly this situation can change.”
“As either people come inside and are not careful about how they do that or, just out of COVID fatigue, start to relax on some of these guidelines, the numbers will start to go back up. We’re seeing our absolute numbers go up already,” Arkoosh said.
To keep the positivity rate below 5%, Arkoosh stressed residents should continue to abide by all mask wearing, handwashing and social distancing recommendations.
More people in the county do appear to be taking advantage of testing opportunities for the virus. Officials reported that for the 14-day period ending Oct. 9, there were 28,344 county residents tested for COVID-19, which is an increase of 2,995 people tested, compared to the 14-day period ending Oct. 2.
Officials said more testing provides the county the opportunity to do more surveillance and learn how the virus is circulating in the county and suppress any outbreak that may surface.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, officials reported 47 more individuals tested positive for the coronavirus, bringing the county’s total number of cases to 12,647 since March 7, when the first two cases of the virus were identified in the county.
The new positive individuals included 25 females and 21 males, who ranged in age from 9 months to 78, and who resided in 23 municipalities, according to the latest statistics. The gender of one of the positive individuals was unknown.
Officials reported no new COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday, leaving the county’s death toll at 837.
On Wednesday, officials reported 38 individuals were currently hospitalized with the coronavirus in county hospitals, with eight requiring a ventilator. The numbers are up slightly from a month ago but at the peak of the pandemic in April, the county reported several hundred hospitalizations.
Officials said testing is available for all county residents and those who work in the county and want or need to be tested. The county has established outdoor walk-up testing sites in Pottstown, Norristown, Lansdale, Willow Grove, Ardmore and Green Lane to accommodate those who want to be tested Monday through Friday.
The six county-run sites provide self-administered tests at no cost, although insurance will be billed if you have it. The sites do require an appointment for testing.
To register for a test at any of the six sites, residents can visit www.montcopa.org/COVID-19 and click on the county testing information button. Residents can also register for a test at any of the six sites by calling 610-970-2937.
That phone number as well as the online registration will open at 8:30 a.m. daily.
In Pottstown, the testing site is located at the county’s Office of Public Health Pottstown Health Center at 364 King St. Testing is available by appointment Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from noon to 2 p.m. and on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
In Norristown, a testing site is located on the parking lot of the Delaware Valley Community Health Norristown Regional Health Center at 1401 DeKalb St. Testing is available Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 10 a.m. to noon, and on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
In Lansdale, a testing site is located at 421 Main St. and is open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and on Tuesdays and Thursdays from noon to 2 p.m.
Another testing site is located at Deep Creek and Snyder roads in the Green Lane Park area, where tests are available Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and on Tuesdays and Thursdays from noon to 2 p.m.
In Ardmore, a testing site is located at 114 W. Lancaster Avenue where testing is available Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and on Tuesdays and Thursdays from noon to 2 p.m.
In Willow Grove, testing is available at First Baptist Church - Crestmont, 1678 Fairview Ave. Testing there is available Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from noon to 2 p.m. and on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.