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In Berks, COVID not on summer holiday

The bouncing balls that are the COVID-19 statistics continued last week for Berks County and Pennsylvania in the midweek update of the Pennsylvania Department of Health dashboard and the weekend Early Warning Monitoring Dashboard.

Adding to the statistical spaghetti are the figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But, the stats all point to an elevated number of cases and hospitalizations that continued, with them barely off second omicron surge highs.

The other certainty is that COVID has not vanished and the state and Berks are not seeing cases fall as rapidly as the nation overall.

The midweek update showed Berks with a third-highest-of-the surge weekly total of new cases and reinfections, 797. That number is obtained through all testing procedures, of which there are now a few.

That number is behind 913 for the update on May 25, and 876 on May 18. So, it was the most new cases in three months.

The midweek report also recorded 43 COVID patients in Berks hospitals, down one from the surge high of 44 a week earlier. The length of stay is not part of the stats.

Just one death of a Berks resident was reported for the week, bringing the total to 1,649 for the 30-month pandemic-plus period.

The second omicron surge has been running for four months. It has contained several strains of the original omicron that swept through the population in late 2021 and early 2022.

The number of cases and hospitalizations are currently high for this surge, but about a fifth of the peak weeks of the initial omicron blitz.

The weekend report

Berks case numbers dipped and the positivity rate surged in the weekend Early Warning dashboard.

That dashboard is composed only of results from the the nasal swab test, the PCR. It’s not clear what percentage of PCR tests make up all the test results.

The stats showed Berks with 39 fewer new cases than the week before, a case rate of 102 per 100,000, which was down, and a positivity rate at 19.7%, up about a point.

The positivity rate was the second highest of the surge to 20.6% two weeks earlier.

Those positivity numbers are among the highest for Berks County in the whole COVID episode, even with all the other surges.

Berks still maintains its status as a low-risk county for COVID, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Pennsylvania overall was a minus 1,908 cases, 110 new cases per 100,000 and 16.4% positivity. Both of the two metrics were down.

The midweek update showed Pennsylvania overall with 1,289 COVID patients hospitalized, down slightly from a surge record the week before.


COVID-19 vaccinations in Berks County continued at a low rate that has been common since February.

The past week’s statistics from the Pennsylvania Department of Health:

• 286: Residents getting “fully vaccinated” for a total of 252,342 over the entire 20-month episode of inoculation opportunities.

• 309: Residents getting either their first booster or a third full dose for the immunocompromised, for a total of 121,008.

• 517: Residents getting either a second booster or a fourth full dose for the immunocompromised, for a total of 25,830.

The county’s population is 429,000, according to the 2020 census. No one who dies of any cause is purged from the vaccination rolls.

More statistics

Other COVID statistics for Berks from the CDC:

• 30: Hospital admissions in the past week, continuing a two-week decline, which might foretell a decline in hospitalizations ahead.

• 2,632: Tests recorded in the past week, down slightly for the second week in a row.

Case levels are about the same as this time of year the past two late summers. But those summers in 2020 and 2021 saw cases down to trickle in June and July while 2022 has been elevated the whole time.

Pennsylvania is no longer updating cases, hospitalizations and deaths based on vaccination status.

National look

BA.5 remains the most dominant strain of COVID since its parent, the original omicron.

The highly contagious strain is responsible for nearly 90% of all cases in the country, and roughly the same in the mid-Atlantic, according to CDC information.

However, it appears as if its expansion has hit a ceiling in the past few weeks.

BA.5 hit in earnest about five weeks ago and pushed up the national seven-day case average to 129,889 on July 16.

Since then, the case numbers have been sliding and the downward trend is gaining momentum, with the latest figure Saturday of 88,594.

Health officials are concerned that an accurate picture of the spread isn’t available due to widespread at-home testing and no testing.

Free testing site

The state health department encourages residents to drop in to the COVID community-based testing sites operated in partnership with AMI Expeditionary Healthcare, including the Berks site in Bern Township.

AMI is offering three forms of free testing: point-of-care tests where tests are performed and results are analyzed on-site; the distribution of at-home antigen testing; and continued administration of the nasal passage swab PCR testing.

The Bern Township site is at 2561 Bernville Road.

The site is expected to be open at least until Sept. 4, running 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.

Officials said the Do Your Part Berks website remains a good source of information:

Source: Berkshire mont

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