The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has introduced a new county-level service to help residents decide what Covid-prevention steps they should take.
On the CDC 3-level scale, Chester County is currently ranked “Medium”.
For residents in a community with a Medium level (such as Chester County), the CDC suggests taking the following steps:
- If you are at high risk for severe illness, talk to your healthcare provider about whether you need to wear a mask and take other precautions
- Stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines
- Get tested if you have symptoms
The CDC continues, “People with symptoms, a positive test, or exposure to someone with COVID-19 should wear a mask.”
To me, that advice implies that, for our county, there is no need for a mask if you are not “at high risk for severe illness”.
How is the CDC’s “community level” calculated? The CDC looks at three metrics: the number of new Covid cases per 100,000 residents over the past 7 days, the number of new Covid hospital admissions over the past 7 days, and the percentage of hospital beds occupied by Covid patients.
To be considered Low according to the CDC’s scale, we would have to have fewer than 200 new cases per 100,000 per week AND there would have to be fewer than 10 new Covid admissions per 100,000 (7-day average) AND the percentage of hospital beds occupied by Covid cases would have to be below 10% (7-day average).
Although we are classified as Medium, it appears to me that we meet all the criteria for the Low classification, unless I am missing something. Currently, in our county, the number of new cases in a week is low enough (about 79), the level of new admissions is low enough (8.19), and the percent of hospital beds used for Covid is low enough (4.44%). This is the CDC’s own county data.
Perhaps it is just a matter of timing: our Medium classification might have been based on information that has since been updated. In that case, we could soon be reclassified as Low.
Chester County uses a different scale. The Chester County Health Department uses a 4-level scale and currently calls our level “Substantial”, which is level 3. The County still requires masks in all County facilities, but I can’t find any guidance on mask-wearing in other settings on the County website. (Perhaps a reader can point me to this information.)
Meanwhile, all the measures of Covid spread in our county continue to drop. The percent positivity has been falling for weeks and is now down to 7.18%.