READING, Pa. — The Berks County commissioners heard a report Thursday that raised concerns about the current uptick in COVID-19 cases.
Brian Gottschall, the county's director of emergency services and the lead on the Berks County COVID-19 leadership team, pointed out the data during his weekly report at the commissioner's meeting.
Using data from Pennsylvania's early-warning dashboard, Gottshall said 14,182 new cases were reported in the state over the most recent seven-day period, compared to 12,902 cases from the previous seven-day period.
As Gottschall points out each week, the dashboard data is somewhat out-of-date, because the weekly data is released each Friday, making it almost a week behind the commissioners' meetings.
But Gottschall noted that the most recent daily positive COVID-19 case numbers are also growing significantly.
"We see the leading indicators, with respect to cases, all showing upticks," Gottschall said. "This is concerning. I'm not suggesting we're in a catastrophe or that the sky is falling, but it is important for the public to be attentive to numbers and not be complacent."
Even though current death and hospitalization numbers are remaining flat, Gottschall said deaths are usually a trailing indicator to the new cases, which are leading indicators.
"As cases start to move [in an upward trend], the deaths follow weeks later," he said. "Statistics show that some percentage of the people who contract COVID-19 will die from it. What we want to avoid is seeing deaths trend upward again."
Gottschall noted that the first-test positivity results are also once again rising, following a period where they had been consistently decreasing.
City resident Becky Ellis commented that, when looking at the early warning dashboard, the data does not account for probable cases of COVID-19.
On a positive note, Gottschall reported that the state now has indicated it will be delivering 12,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine each week to Berks County.
"We should be able to see 12,000 new people a week get vaccinated [with the first dose] for the foreseeable future," Gottschall said.
But Gottshall also pointed out that the current 18 providers in Berks County have the ability to deliver 17,000 doses a week.
"The ability to deliver more vaccine is somewhat anecdotal," he said.
Commissioner Kevin S. Barnhardt also reported that the case counts from contact tracing at Co-County Wellness are not going in a good direction. Barnhardt said 500 new contacts were made last week.