Franklin Co. tops 10-percent mark for positive COVID-19 tests; Lebanon Co. worst in Pa. in other categories

Coronavirus in Pennsylvania

FRANKLIN COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — Franklin County now ranks highest among all Midstate counties in terms of the percentage of its COVID-19 tests — now 10.3 percent — with positive results, according to an abc27 analysis of county-by-county data released on Friday.

Lebanon County’s positive-test rate, meanwhile, rose to 9.7 percent (from 8.7 percent a week earlier), and Lebanon led in other dubious categories. These include the number of positive cases per 100,000 people (in other words, standardizing for the size of counties to be able to make meaningful comparisons) and the percentage of total emergency room visits that were due to suspected cases of COVID-19. In fact, Lebanon’s 3.1 percent figure in the ER visit category is the highest among all of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties.

Franklin County’s surge from a positivity rate of 6.1 percent to 10.3 percent, in the span of a week, was driven by 73 new diagnoses in the county of about 150,000 people.

A high positivity rate is an ominous sign but isn’t proof that a higher percentage of one county’s residents have COVID-19. That’s because the percentage results from not only the number of positive tests, but also the total number of tests. Widespread testing in one county, including of people who are unlikely to have COVID-19, could result in modestly more positive test results but a lower positivity rate than in another county, because the denominator (total number of tests) is so much higher.

Here’s the ranking of Midstate counties in all three categories, from worst to least bad, for Oct. 23-29:

CountyCases per 100,000 residents CountyCases per 100,000 residents
1) Lebanon2646) Lancaster99.9
2) Mifflin155.87) Adams94.3
3) Dauphin119.18) Cumberland71.2
4) Franklin115.69) Juniata60.3
5) York104.610) Perry43.3

CountyPercent of COVID-19 tests positive CountyPercent of COVID-19 tests positive
1) Franklin10.3%6) Lancaster5.8%
2) Lebanon9.7%7) Cumberland5.2%
3) Mifflin7.6%8) Adams4.8%
4) York7.2%9) Perry4.2%
5) Dauphin6.6%10) Juniata3.3%

CountyPercent of ER visits due to possible COVID* CountyPercent of ER visits due to possible COVID*
1) Lebanon3.1%5) Cumberland0.9%
2) Adams2.2%6) Lancaster0.8%
3) York1.3%7) Dauphin0.5%
4) Franklin1.2%8) Mifflin0.3%
*Among Midstate counties with hospital emergency departments in their counties

(Source for all data: PA Department of Health.)

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