A recent increase in coronavirus cases around the Philadelphia region has the area concerned over the possibility of a steady rise in upcoming weeks.
The beginning of October brought with it an average daily case count higher than mid-September’s, when the City of Philadelphia had reached its lowest rate since the beginning of the pandemic in March.
“This wave [of new cases] has the potential to become a surge,” Judith Persichilli, New Jersey Health Commissioner, said.
Over the past two weeks, Philadelphia County has seen nearly 2,500 new cases with 29 deaths. New Castle, Kent and Sussex counties in Delaware have seen about 2,250 new cases and 24 deaths over the last 14 days. In New Jersey, Burlington, Atlantic, Camden, Gloucester, Salem, Cumberland and Cape May counties have seen 2,000 new cases and 104 new deaths, according to figures in the Philadelphia Inquirer’s “Coronavirus: Tracking The Spread.”
As the Philadelphia area experiences a rise in cases, so does the rest of the country. The average number of coronavirus cases in the United States increased by roughly five percent for the beginning of October.
To date, over 7.5 million Americans have contracted the coronavirus, leading to over 212,000 deaths since March. According to Johns Hopkins University, the upper Midwest area is being hit the hardest by new infections, surpassing Florida’s record reached in mid-July.
In terms of the coronavirus death toll numbers, New Jersey currently ranks fourth with over 16,000, following California and Texas. With over 8,000 deaths, Pennsylvania ranks eighth, but the uncertainty regarding the uptick in cases throughout the Philadelphia region has many feeling unsettled.
“The reason for this increase in [Coronavirus] case activity is not entirely clear,” Dr. Thomas Farley, Philadelphia Health Commissioner, said. “We do know that we are seeing clusters and spread on college campuses in the city.”
While local colleges and universities — including Drexel University, Temple University, the University of Pennsylvania, Saint Joseph’s University and Thomas Jefferson University — are currently conducting remote learning, coronavirus numbers in areas surrounding their campuses are rising. Although college-age adults in these areas are experiencing notable increases, they are not the only age group of concern, nor are these the only areas, according to Farley.
“We’re also seeing increases in other age groups — not the college age group — and in other areas in the city,” Farley said. “Particularly in the far Northeast [section of Philadelphia]. It’s less clear why we’re seeing this transmission there.”
The colder weather approaching the area has Farley worried for a continuous spread, he said.
Although Drexel is currently utilizing a remote teaching and learning model, the University recently announced it will offer free testing to students, even for those without symptoms, as an increased effort to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. But Farley noted that, in addition to testing, taking steps to stay safe and smart are the most important and effective preventative measures.
“The overall message now, in view of the increasing cases we’re seeing in Philadelphia and what’s happening around us, is that risk is increasing right now,” Farley said. “People should be especially concerned and especially focused on wearing masks to protect [themselves] and protect the people around [them].”