coronavirus pandemic

Lehigh Valley, Delaware County Are Worst Places for COVID in All of Pa.

Northampton and Lehigh counties have the highest new daily case counts per 100,000 people in the entire state, according to Heath Department data. Delaware County is third, which could be why a federal testing site is opening in Southwest Philadelphia near the county border.

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The places where COVID-19 cases are rising fastest in Pennsylvania do not include the counties with the biggest cities.

Instead, the Lehigh Valley's Northampton and Lehigh counties are the epicenters for the highest new case counts, according to data from Pennsylvania's Department of Health.

Lehigh County is averaging 250 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people, followed by Northampton County, with an average 247. Those are 7-day averages, as of Thursday.

Delaware County in southeastern Pennsylvania is third among the state's 62 counties, with 241 new daily cases per 100,000 people.

That's compared to the most-populated county, Philadelphia, where the 7-day average is 191.

The state's Acting Health Secretary Keara Klinepeter on Thursday visited a new testing site that opened in Delaware County this week, urging people to get tested as often as possible and quarantine if exposed.

Her appearance emphasized the dire situation currently affecting the suburban county to Philadelphia's south. On the same day, a federal testing site run by FEMA opened at a recreation center in Southwest Philadelphia, near the border with Delaware County.

“The (Pennsylvania) Department of Health continues making COVID-19 testing accessible, available, and flexible for Pennsylvanians at hundreds of locations – and this public testing site is just another example of that,” Klinepeter said while visiting the state site in Yeadon. “We encourage anyone who feels they need or want a test, especially if they think they have been exposed to COVID-19 or are experiencing symptoms, to take advantage of the free COVID-19 testing closest to them. This includes fully vaccinated individuals who are experiencing symptoms.”

The FEMA site in Philadelphia will operate out of Cibotti Recreation Center at 2500 South 77th Street. It has a capacity to test up to 650 people each day and will be open seven days a week.

State testing sites are able to test about 500 people each day, Klinepeter said Thursday.

All residents of the region are urged to continue social distancing, including avoiding eating and drinking indoors in public, and to wear medical-grade masks, including N-95s and KN-94s, instead of cloth masks.

The Omicron variant of COVID-19 continues to fuel a spike in cases across Pennsylvania and nationally, though medical experts say the effects are much less severe for most infected people who are vaccinated.

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