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Editor’s Note: We are standardizing the format for daily COVID-19 case data updates. These articles may feel repetitious but we want each one to stand alone in terms of providing maximum context around the data. This is the update for Thursday, October 14.

The number of new COVID-19 cases over the last 14 days per 100,000 residents is currently at 260 for Lebanon County.

This metric dipped below 50 on Thursday, August 5, for the first time since we began tracking it. Through August the metric hovered in the 40’s and low 50’s and only rose into the 60’s and beyond in recent weeks, and spiked again mid-September.

In terms of relative comparisons, the current figure of 260 new COVID-19 cases over the last 14 days per 100,000 residents is 214% higher compared to Lebanon County’s figures one month ago and 65% higher compared to 14 days ago. The current count of 260 new cases over the last 14 days per 100,000 residents is less than a percent lower than the all-time high, 261, which occurred on April 21.

The positive rate was 12% in May, 9% in June, 5.4% in July, and 4.3% in August. For September the positive rate was 8.2%. So far in October, the positive rate is 14.2%.

In terms of raw numbers, Lebanon County is now tracking at 2,460 cases of the novel coronavirus, according to current Pennsylvania Department of Health data, with 22,087 negative tests and 65 deaths. (All figures in this article are based on DOH data unless otherwise noted.)

Calculated as a percentage of confirmed cases, coronavirus currently has a mortality rate of 2.6% in Lebanon County – although due to still-limited testing as well as the occurrence of asymptomatic/undetected cases, the actual mortality rate may be lower than that. The mortality rate is however much higher in nursing homes and in general the virus should still be considered as extremely dangerous, especially for people with existing conditions. Department of Health data indicates that only 37% of death records did not include comorbidity data, with the additional caveat that “medical certifiers often underreport comorbidity data.” Dementia, hypertension, diabetes, and coronary conditions are top comorbidities in the state.

The Wolf administration announced Wednesday that it would begin distributing the first allotment of rapid antigen test cards from the federal government to seven counties with high disease incidence rates, including Lebanon County. Antigen tests, distinct from antibody tests, are similar to the prevalent PCR tests in that they both detect active infections. The tests will go to long-term care facilities, higher education institutions, correctional facilities, and healthcare providers.

The Department of Health reports a total “recovered” percentage as part of its daily updates. A person is considered recovered if a case has not been reported as a death after more than 30 days past the date of the first positive test or the onset of symptoms. At present, the state says 80% of cases are considered recovered. 250,000 total tests were included in the first allotment to the state, with more expected in the coming weeks.

Daily new cases over last 14 days per 100,000 residents

Read More: Spotlight PA’s statewide coronavirus tracker

For additional context, the southcentral region is currently at 151, Lancaster County is at 128, Philadelphia County is at 155, and the state overall is at 136.

The southcentral region includes Adams, Bedford, Blair, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Juniata, Lebanon, Mifflin, Perry, and York counties.

87 of the Lebanon County cases are probable cases. Probable cases are primarily based on designations made by healthcare providers based on symptoms and known exposures. See more about probable cases in our FAQ below.

Daily new cases and negative results as 7-day trailing average

Positive test rate as 7-day trailing average

The Department of Health is reporting 65 deaths as of today, while Lebanon County is reporting 47. According to county data, the 47 deaths are linked to residents from Lebanon County municipalities as follows:

  • City of Lebanon (2)
  • Cleona Borough (1)
  • Cornwall Borough (3)
  • Jackson Township (1)
  • Myerstown Borough (16)
  • North Cornwall Township (7)
  • Richland Borough (3)
  • South Lebanon Township (11)
  • Swatara Township (2)

Daily new cases as 7-day trailing average

The state began breaking cases out by ZIP code in mid-April. See below for how cases looked across Lebanon County ZIP codes as of the last time the data was updated.

  • 17003 (Annville) – 107 positive, 1,234 negative, nine probable
  • 17010 (Campbelltown) – 1-4 positive (redacted), 48 negative, zero probable
  • 17016 (Cornwall) – 18 positive, 165 negative, zero probable
  • 17026 (Fredericksburg) – 38 positive, 397 negative, 1-4 probable (redacted)
  • 17028 (Grantville) – 15 positive, 358 negative, 1-4 probable (redacted)
  • 17038 (Jonestown) – 105 positive, 956 negative, 1-4 probable (redacted)
  • 17041 (Lawn) – zero positive, eight negative, zero probable
  • 17042 (Lebanon) – 816 positive, 6,914 negative, 17 probable
  • 17046 (Lebanon) – 730 positive, 5,171 negative, 22 probable
  • 17064 (Mount Gretna) – six positive, 140 negative, zero probable
  • 17067 (Myerstown) – 279 positive, 1,878 negative, nine probable (redacted)
  • 17073 (Newmanstown) – 68 positive, 619 negative, six probable
  • 17078 (Palmyra) – 172 positive, 2,934 negative, 16 probable
  • 17087 (Richland) – 47 positive, 293 negative, 1-4 probable (redacted)
  • 17545 (Manheim) – 233 positive, 3,223 negative, 1-4 probable (redacted)
  • 17963 (Pine Grove) – 73 positive, 984 negative, 1-4 probable (redacted)
  • 19551 (Robesonia) – 37 positive, 526 negative, 1-4 probable (redacted)
  • 19567 (Womelsdorf) – 97 positive, 568 negative, 1-4 probable (redacted)

The share of cases linked to nursing homes climbed steadily through earlier stages of the pandemic, currently registering at approximately 1 out of every 7 cases being a nursing home resident or staff member. According to DOH data from 2017, Lebanon County is among the Pennsylvania counties with the highest number of nursing home beds per capita and the highest nursing home occupancy rates.

Deaths from COVID-19 occur at a far higher rate in nursing home residents than among the general population, with these deaths comprising the majority of overall deaths linked to the novel coronavirus in Lebanon County.

Percentage of COVID-19 cases linked to nursing homes

Percentage of COVID-19 deaths linked to nursing homes

As of Thursday, Oct. 14, the state was reporting COVID-19 cases at 13 nursing homes or personal care facility in the county, with 179 cases among residents and 58 cases among employees. According to DOH data, there have been 46 coronavirus-linked deaths at Lebanon County nursing homes or personal care facilities to date.

As of mid-April, WellSpan Health has made available a dashboard showing hospital-specific data. According to this dashboard, to date there have been 11,620 tests performed by WellSpan Health in Lebanon County, with 11,469 of those finalized and 151 pending. 1,194 tests (10.4%) were positive.

Currently there are 18 confirmed positive COVID-19 patients at WellSpan Good Samaritan Hospital and one presumed patient under investigation.

WellSpan Good Sam in-patient census

WellSpan Good Sam in-patient census as Percentage of 14 day new cases

According to WellSpan data, 23 deaths have occurred at WellSpan Good Samaritan Hospital as a result of coronavirus. WellSpan notes that this information is not based on patient residency and therefore may differ from DOH statistics.

The Department of Veterans Affairs also makes some information available regarding treatment of coronavirus at its facilities. As of today, the Lebanon VA Medical Center is providing care to 28 people who tested positive for COVID-19 as “active cases,” 26 veterans and two employees. Active cases are defined as patients tested or treated at a VA facility for known or probable COVID-19 who have neither died nor reached convalescent status, which is itself defined as patients who are “either post-hospital discharge, or 14 days after their last positive test, whichever comes later.” 29692 additional people (257 veterans, 38 employees, and one veteran-employee) are considered convalescent cases at present. The facility has recorded 29 known deaths from the virus. These figures include residents of the VA’s long-term care Community Living Centers.

Additional Charts

Here’s how Lebanon County’s confirmed case count has grown since the pandemic began.

Here’s how confirmed cases compare to overall tests in Lebanon County.

Here’s how the daily number of new cases in Lebanon County looks.

Here’s how that looks when negative tests are included.

Here is a chart that shows an estimated mortality rate based on a thirty day recovery period from the time of the state receiving a positive test result.

See our full dataset here.

Relative Comparisons

Here’s how Lebanon County compares to other counties, as well as the region and state, across three main metrics.

Postive Cases as Percent of Overall Population

Postive Cases as Percent of Overall Population

Overall Tests as Percent of Overall Population

Overall Tests as Percent of Overall Population

Positive Cases as Percent of Overall Tests

Positive Cases as Percent of Overall Tests

Frequently Asked Questions

Where are COVID-19 cases occurring in Lebanon County?

The state began releasing ZIP-level date on April 20 and intends to update this dataset daily. We now include it in the main update above. Some ZIP codes are missing at this point and the DOH says they are working on including them. Previously, the DOH had declined to share ZIP code level data, citing HIPAA concerns. LebTown editorialized on this issue and questioned the applicability of HIPAA in this regard. In April the state also presented counties with an offer for specific addresses (but not names) of COVID-19 patients to be shared with 911 centers, but Lebanon County has declined so far to enter that agreement, citing concerns shared by the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania that the agreement exposes the county to undue liability. Lancaster Newspapers has reported that the Lancaster County Commissioners share this view as well. In any event, that agreement, if ratified, would prevent county officials from sharing the data with the public.

How does Lebanon County look compared to other counties?

This is a complicated question and there’s no one answer to it. In our primary daily update, we track a few specific ratios:

  1. Postive Cases as Percent of Overall Population
  2. Overall Tests as Percent of Overall Population
  3. Positive Cases as Percent of Overall Tests

In general, Lebanon County will be doing well if we can continue to increase #1 while holding steady with #2. In that scenario, #3 would necessarily go down.

How does the state define a COVID-19 case?

Initially cases were only listed by the state if a positive test had been recorded. In April, the state began including probable cases as well. Here is how the state defines probable cases:

  • Appropriate symptoms of COVID-19 and exposed to a high-risk scenario
  • A positive antibody test and either symptoms or a high-risk exposure
  • A fatal case with no known test result, but COVID-19 named as either the primary or a contributing cause of death

Probable cases were counted in the overall death count for some time, but the DOH reversed course on that decision. Additionally, positive antibody, or serology, tests are also being counted towards the positive case count. The state does not include negative antibody tests in its negative case data.

“The most common explanation for (probable cases) is the spouse of someone who tested positive,” said DOH spokesperson Nate Wardle in an email to LebTown. “As someone who would be a caregiver for someone who tested positive, if they were to develop symptoms they would likely not need to be tested, and would be considered a probable case.”

Probable cases can also include positive antibody tests, but antibody tests comprise just 34% of overall statewide probable cases and in Lebanon County, neither WellSpan Health, Lebanon Veterans Affairs Medical Center, nor UPMC Pinnacle are actively conducting antibody testing at this time, with Quest Diagnostics being the only firm known to offer this type of testing at present. Tests could however be performed on Lebanon County residents at facilities outside of the county and show up on state data, which is based on county of residence.

Read More: Pa. is mixing coronavirus test results, and that could distort our view of the disease

What phase is Lebanon County in?

Lebanon County is now ‘green,’ having been the last of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties to transition according to the state’s multiphase reopening plan on Friday, July 3.

In the ‘green’ phase, restaurants and bars may reopen indoor service at 50% capacity. Personal care services, such as nail parlors, salons, and barbershops, as well as gyms and spas, may reopen by appointment up to 50% capacity. Casinos, theaters, and malls may also now reopen at up to 50% capacity.

Businesses allowed to operate at 50% occupancy during ‘yellow’ may increase to 75% occupancy in the ‘green’ phase. Mask requirements will remain in place, and large gatherings of more than 250 people will still be prohibited.

“We must remember that the restrictions that remain in the green phase will help us continue to enjoy the freedoms this phase allows for,” said Gov. Wolf in the release.

Read More: Unanimous support for mask wearing from Lebanon County congressional reps, but local GOP officials hold back

An expanded mask order that went into effect on Wednesday, July 1, calls for the public to wear masks wherever they cannot maintain a six foot separation from others as part of social distancing measures.

Read More: Pennsylvania mandates masks for anyone who leaves their home amid coronavirus increases

How many tests have been done in Lebanon County?

This is a complicated question. The state does not track, at least publicly, the total number of outstanding tests at the county level. WellSpan Health began disclosing hospital-specific data related to COVID-19 testing and treatment on April 22 and we include this information in our daily update above. One complication here is that just because a test was administered in a specific county, does not mean that the person who received the test resides in that same county. However the state has recently added the number of negative tests to its county-level data. By adding the negative tests number with the total cases number, we can estimate the total number of tests taken by Lebanon County residents, although this figure should be seen as a proxy and not an absolute or highly precise measure.

How many people have recovered from COVID-19?

The state began reporting a recovery count in late May and we have begun including this figure in our daily tracker updates.

How can Lebanon County and the Department of Health have two different numbers for COVID-19 deaths?

The Department of Health has said that fatal cases which are not reported through the state’s electronic system may not be captured in the official counts. Likewise, cases reported directly to the state may not also be reported to the county coroner. Read more on this subject in our article with Lebanon County Coroner Dr. Jeffery Yocum here. Additionally, the state and county have different criteria for registering a death – the state counts a death if the deceased tested positive for COVID-19 at the time of their death, whereas the county counts a death if COVID-19 symptoms were the primary cause of death.

How did you select which ZIP codes to list?

Some local ZIP codes include land in other counties as well as in Lebanon County. To be comprehensive we have included any ZIP code that falls even partly inside county lines. Note that Ono (17077), Quentin (17083), Rexmont (17085), and Schaefferstown (17088) are still not present in the source data.

Read all of LebTown’s COVID-19 coverage here.

Access LebTown’s comprehensive COVID-19 resource guide here.

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Full Disclosure: WellSpan Health is an advertiser on LebTown. LebTown does not make editorial decisions based on advertising relationships and advertisers do not receive special editorial treatment. Learn more about advertising with LebTown here.