Franklin County: COVID-19 surge in full swing


A predicted COVID-19 fall surge is in full swing, both in South-Central Pennsylvania and across the state.

Tuesday marks the one-year anniversary of the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, according to a Newsweek article. That’s the date Chinese doctors and health experts believe the first reportable case of a mysterious illness whose symptoms mimicked the flu and/or pneumonia emerged in Wuhan Province was diagnosed. .

Since then, COVID-19 spread out of China and around the globe, causing over 1.3 million deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The U.S. has seen 11.2 million confirmed cases and 250,485 deaths so far this year.

In Pennsylvania, 275,513 cases and 9,399 deaths have been confirmed. Franklin County has seen 3,251 confirmed cases and 111 probable cases with 76 deaths, according to a state Department of Health news release.

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RELATED: DoH, WellSpan: Surge in COVID-19 cases

COVID-19 surge
Downtown Chambersburg streets were empty after most local businesses were forced to close in March as part of the Coronavirus mitigation effort. (Photo by Vicky Taylor)

The situation was bad last spring when Gov. Tom Wolf declared an emergency and locked down the state. He closed schools, shuttered businesses and ordered people to stay at home. The almost total lockdown eased over the summer, but health officials warned of a renewed surge in cases this fall.

That surge now appears to be in full swing.

DOH has reported daily increases in confirmed cases creeping up to over 5,000 per day during the past week. Deaths are also climbing, a DOH news release claims.

COVID surge brings rumors

With the increases have come rampant rumors, including one making its rounds on social media that Chambersburg Hospital was operating under a “disaster lockdown.”

WellSpan Health media relations manager Ryan Coyle denied the disaster lockdown rumor but did say steadily increasing numbers of COVIS confirmed patients has restricted visitation policies at its Franklin and Adams County hospitals.

“Hospitalizations continue to increase at a concerning rate,” he said. “We need everyone to understand the seriousness of the situation and take steps immediately to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

His suggestions to do that:

  • Practice social distancing and limit in-person interactions.
  • Wear a mask or cloth face covering.
  • Wash hands thoroughly and often.

“These are simple steps, and critical steps, to ensure that our health system can continue to care for all of our patients,” he said.

Area schools affected

The pandemic and this month’s rise in local cases has affected schools also. Schools across the state closed last March under orders from the state. This fall, districts took different approaches to the 2020-21 school year.

RELATED: CASD: Two more COVID-19 cases

Some, like Waynesboro, resumed in-person classes four days a week with a virtual option. Others. like Chambersburg, went totally virtual. Others had classroom-virtual hybrid models.

COVID-19 surge
Two CASD residents talk during a rally Tuesday afternoon in front of the CASD administration building. FCFP photo)

Chambersburg partially reopened its classrooms to in-person learning in October after numerous parents complained about the virtual on-line models. Since that time, 24 students and staff mrnbers have been diagnoised with COVID, resulting in temporary 2-week switches back to online learning for affected classes.

Even area colleges have been affected by the pandemic and are conducting most, in some cases all, of their programs online.

Franklin County cases to date

There has been a total of3,086reported cases in Franklin County since the start of the outbreak. Over the past two weeks, the county has had757new cases. Compared to its six neighboring counties, Franklin County had the3rd highestnumber of cases per 100,000 people over the past two weeks. Here’s how Franklin’s per capita 7-day moving average compares to its neighbors:

Here’s how its trend looks since March:

COVID-19 surge
SOURCES: Pa. Department of Health data compiled by Spotlight PA and The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Compared to its six neighboring counties, Franklin County had the2nd highestnumber of deaths per 100,000 people over the past two weeks. Here’s how Franklin’s per capita 7-day moving average compares to its neighbors:

COVID-19 surge
SOURCES: Pa. Department of Health data compiled by Spotlight PA and The Philadelphia Inquirer.

COVID hospitalizations, deaths

Chambersburg Hospital had 49 COVID-19 patients as of 12 a.m. Tuesday, down from the weekend high of 51. A total of 55 patients with confirmed positive COVID test have died at the hospital since the pandemic hit earlier this year. Those numbers include patients who are not residents of Franklin County. They don’t include infected persons, or deaths, that were not treated at Chambersburg Hospital, or deaths that happened in county nursing homes or individual homes.

Waynesboro Hospital had 17 COVID patients as of Tuesday morning. Gettysburg Hospital in Adams County had 14.

Chambersburg Hospital has done 16,734 COVID tests since March 10 with 7.4% coming back positive, but both DOH and WellSpan officials said cases have been on the rise this month. Comparing Franklin with its four neighboring counties, Only the denser populated Juniata and Huntingdon have seen more new cases, and subsequent new deaths.


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