Three straight days of lower case numbers and rates of positive tests are making the coronavirus picture a little brighter in Lancaster County, where trends had been moving in the opposite direction recently.
The county has ranked high in recent weeks in both its per-capita rate of new cases, and its percentage of tests that turn out positive.
But after a 10-day stretch in which it averaged 52 new cases of COVID-19 each day, the county recorded only 26 new cases on Monday, 28 on Tuesday and 22 on Wednesday.
Testing, meanwhile, continued at a similar pace, but led to fewer positive results. Over the past three days, the rate of positive tests was 4.3%, or well below the 8.3% of the previous 10 days. The rate had been falling steadily until last week, when it nudged back upward.
Things can change quickly, and three days is not a firm trend. But the latest numbers improve the picture a bit, at least in the short term.
Officials say the higher recent case numbers were due, in least in part, to ramped up testing in local nursing homes, some of which have been hard hit by the pandemic.
Some official have also expressed concern about a possible wider spread of the virus in the local Plain Sect communities.
The three-day improvement in Lancaster County was not reflected statewide, where Pennsylvania has been grappling with rising cases and rates of positive tests in a number of areas. On Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Tom Wolf expanded his indoor mask order to outdoor public spaces where social distancing is impossible.
In Allegheny County, officials shut down on-site consumption of alcohol in bars and restaurants after sharp spike in COVID-19 cases, and Philadelphia has postponed a planned return to indoor dining and allow bars and gyms to reopen.
Numbers of new cases in Pennsylvania increased in each of the past two days, and the rate of positive tests continued to run a bit higher — at above 5% — after declining steadily for several weeks.
Here are the numbers of new cases in Lancaster County, and percentage of tests that were positive, over seven-day periods in recent weeks, starting with the most recent period. Lower percentages of positive tests generally indicate lower prevalence of the virus among the population.
June 25-July 1: 312 new cases (6.8% of tests)
June 18-24: 322 new cases (8.2% of tests)
June 11-17: 230 new cases (8.1% of tests)
June 4-10: 333 new cases (12.0% of tests)
May 28-June 3: 236 new cases (8.8% of tests)
May 21-27: 432 new cases (14.4% of tests)
And here are how the statewide numbers look for the same period.
June 25-July 1: 4,051 new cases (4.7% of tests)
June 18-24: 3,373 new cases (4.3% of tests)
June 11-17: 2,982 new cases (4.3% of tests)
June 4-10: 3,441 new cases (5.5% of tests)
May 28-June 3: 3,987 new cases (6.4% of tests)
May 21-27: 5,005 new cases (8.1% of tests)