Pennsylvania’s acting health secretary gives COVID-19 update

Linda Rider

Pennsylvania’s acting health secretary gives COVID-19 update

well, good afternoon everyone. My name is Kiera Cline Peter. I’m the current acting secretary for health in the commonwealth of pennsylvania. It’s great to be here with you today for those of you in person and of course those online as well As you’ve seen in our weekly COVID-19 updates. Pennsylvania is moving in the right direction. Case counts are at their lowest since last August and continuing to fall hospitalization admissions due to COVID-19 are following and thank goodness mortality rates are declining. These trends are due in part to the millions of pennsylvanians who have stepped up and got vaccinated and boosted Pennsylvanians are doing their part while the Department of Health continued to address the evolving pandemic created by the Global COVID-19 pandemic. I also have to pause for a moment and just thank sincerely and deeply our frontline healthcare workers who have continued to do amazing things to protect patients and pennsylvanians Over the course of the pandemic along with our first responders who have valiantly protected us during this. This time. Despite this progress, COVID-19 is not going away. But pennsylvania is well positioned with the tools, knowledge and resources that we have to prioritize prevention in everyday life and manage future outbreaks when they occur, Vaccines are widely available for everyone ages five and older. In fact this week, Pennsylvania vaccine providers have administered more than 22 million COVID-19 vaccines across all 67 counties. More than 76% of adults are fully vaccinated and 95% of adults have received at least one vaccination vaccinations remain our best defense against the virus and it’s great to see thousands of residents stepping forward each day to get vaccinated. That’s why we’re prepared to move beyond the current phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. Aside from continued vaccinations, we know that the key to our transition will be a strong public health infrastructure that can support our needs as we move into the next phase of our response and recovery. During the recent oMA concert, the Wolf administration acted swiftly to support pennsylvanians and healthcare workforce by deploying both state and federal support systems to hospitals and long term care facilities while simultaneously expanding the testing network along with vaccine and booster outreach. For example, just a few weeks ago, the Wolf administration led the bipartisan effort to identify immediate investments to support frontline healthcare workers in Pennsylvania, which led to the quick appropriation of $250 million dollars in federal funding. We’ve all learned valuable lessons from this pandemic. That’s why pennsylvania has built a strategic stockpile of PPE supported a robust testing infrastructure that includes testing for our schools and long term care facilities, made critical investments in our hospitals and healthcare workforce and executed a successful vaccine. Rollout today, vaccines and therapeutic treatments are widely available across the state businesses, schools and residents are open and have the tools and knowledge they need to move beyond the current phase of the pandemic. However, moving forward does not mean ignoring COVID-19, we can make smart decisions guided by public health research to keep ourselves our loved ones and our communities safer At the Department of Health. Our strategy includes a continued focus on prevention while being nimble enough to quickly respond to any changes in the COVID-19 landscape. Moving forward, the department will continue to prioritize the safety of all residents and public health initiatives. That increase opportunities for all pennsylvanians. Again I appreciate you being here and I’m happy to answer any questions that you have. Okay. Our first question comes from Samantha York from CBS 21. Right so as we move beyond this current phase of the pandemic are we getting any closer to endemic phase? So a lot of doctors have been saying we’re not seeing those overcrowding and emergency departments we were seeing just a month ago so we’re getting to a point where they’re not as over. Yeah so we’re really keying off of what the world health organization is doing. Um They are the ones who declared a pandemic. Um They haven’t deviated from that yet and so we’re waiting to see what they do but like others were very happy to see cases decreasing hospitalizations and mortality decreasing too. Okay our next question comes from Sinica Margo from W. H. T. M. T. V. 27. The CDC is expected to left less than it’s it’s masking guidance. Um I’m curious about so pennsylvania follows the C. D. C. I. I don’t have a heads up on what the CDC is going to announce later today. Um But we will be following CDC guidance and encourage pennsylvanians to do the same. Next up tom Lehman from W. G. A. L. Secretary. You talked a little bit about sort of the infrastructure for making sure that there’s increasing cases you get the state can support your healthcare providers as needed. But my question is as far as like the actual sort of next phase here. I mean what what changes as far as what we’ve seen from the state at this point beyond you know mitigation efforts because that’s not been part of the plan. I mean what you know going forward I mean what what really changes here? Yeah so I think we really want to focus on maintaining a state of readiness and that our activities are commensurate with the risk to pennsylvanians. So we’re going to be focused on three main things empowering individuals um which we want to do by encouraging them to stay up to date on their vaccinations and making sure they’re educated about the level of community spread in their community so that they can make good personal decisions about um things like mask wearing testing that type of thing. We want to continuously evaluate the virus. And so that means um testing as well as good surveillance because we know those at home tests are becoming increasingly popular um as well as disease investigation in high risk settings such as long term care facilities or um prisons and jails. And then lastly enabling care and that’s really where supporting the healthcare continuum comes into play as well as ensuring that their therapeutic options. And so I think we’re going to continue to do a lot of the same good public health things we’ve been doing, but I think it will look different depending on the level of community spread hospitalizations and deaths that the commonwealth is experiencing at any point in time, pediatric vaccinations. And are you satisfied with the progress? Yeah. So we have a little over 76% of pennsylvanians uh 18 and older, fully vaccinated. Uh 41% of pennsylvanians have received their booster dose uh and 80 excuse me, 70% of those between five and 12 are fully vaccinated. And so, um I would love to see those booster numbers come up. Um, and I think this is actually a really great time for folks who maybe haven’t been vaccinated or haven’t been boosted before. Um to do so because that way if and when there is another surge in cases or a different variant, you’ll be prepared and protected. Um, so getting you’re getting your shots when we’re in this lower case count phases is actually a really good choice from a public health perspective. Our next question comes from Priscilla allegory from WFM Zee tv. Thank you for taking questions today. So we obviously got returning a corner when the vaccine came out in about a month and a half ago. It was all hands on deck with omicron. What makes us sure that we’re entering a new phase of the pandemic now? Yeah, I think we do see a significant trend to lower case counts, hospitalizations and deaths. Um but I think to your point that’s why we’re really focused on maintaining readiness for what could come next. And so um you know there there is a new variant out there um It has a low prevalence so far in pennsylvania internationally. We’re not seeing it drive up um severe illness or hospitalizations yet but we don’t know how that’s all going to go. And so that’s really why we’re saying right now absolutely we’re in a new phase of the pandemic. Um but depending on what happens, we may need to move into yet another phase and we’re really prioritizing readiness to protect all pennsylvanians And just a follow up the pennsylvania’s most vulnerable senior citizens those battling severe to diseases. Is this new face of the pandemic? Is it safe for them to go out? Is it you know, it’s lifting these guidelines endangering them or is it um you know, is it now an okay time, head out back into society. Yeah, I think it’s important that um folks really assess that risk for themselves. That’s why we’re very focused on making sure that the data um about the community transmission in everyone’s community is accessible to them and is presented in a way that they can really understand it and make good choices for themselves. And then I think it’s also about continuing to keep those protections in place if you are at risk. And so um for people who are immuno compromised, maybe they will choose to continue wearing a mask when they go to the grocery store. Um, and I would just offer, you don’t always know why someone is wearing a mask, right? Um, they might wear a mask because they work in a nursing home or I wear my mask because I’m pregnant right now. Um, and so I think it’s important that as we enter this next phase, we continue to grant grace to other people who are making, you know, the best decisions they can and who everybody is, you know, trying to adjust to what this next period of time looks like. And I would just encourage us to all have Patience & Grace for one another during it. Our next question comes from David winner from Penn Live. Thank you. There was a reference to, there was a reference to, I think it was 22 million vaccine vaccine doses given in pennsylvania. Um, I want to make sure that that does that include all of the doses given in the state. Um, you know, including the ones given in philadelphia and one of the reasons I want to clarify is a a news release From the Health Department earlier this week. I think it’s stated 28 million doses. But I could be wrong on that. I haven’t double checked that. But my main point is I’d like to get an accurate number for all of the vaccine doses that have been given in pennsylvania. Thank you, Yep. I don’t have that total number readily available in front of me, David. But if you go on our website, um we do keep our vaccine data up to date for those 66 counties um that we service and I would encourage you to take a look there. Our next question comes from Karen man field from the Observer reporter. Karen, are you there? We’ll move on to john Finnerty from capitol wire. Oh I passed. Thank you. I will, I will pass. Thank you john’s here. Thanks for Thanks for taking questions. Yeah. Earlier this week your weekly report made mention of the CDC data on excess deaths. And I wonder if you can kind of help me understand sort of how that number relates to to the D. O. H. Data on deaths. Because when you go to the CDC Page looks like their estimate for the for the excess deaths in Pennsylvania’s pandemic hit is about 40,000, which is fewer than the number of deaths you have reported as being tied to see to to covid. So can you explain that discrepancy. Sure. So I will do my best to do it off the top of my head. But I’ll ask our comms team to follow up with you guys if I get some of the ranking numbers uh wrong. So big picture. There’s three different primary death calculations that are used. There is how um the state of pennsylvania uh reports and calculates deaths. There is the way that the CDC reports and calculates deaths. And then there’s this excess deaths Calculation. Now every state counts deaths from COVID-19 differently. So that results in a variety of methodologies that are used. But then when they all get rolled up to the CDC result in different numbers that mean different things. And so the CDC has strongly advised against comparing states against one another when it comes to deaths. Um because the way that the calculation is done is quite Then the third piece that I mentioned. The excess death calculation that’s looking at not just excess deaths from COVID-19 but from other health epidemics such as opioids. And so the excess death number Is inclusive of more than just COVID-19 deaths. It is also inclusive of other types of excess deaths, which is why it doesn’t match those numbers perfectly. Um in the excess death ranking Is 27th, um which is significantly uh lower or better than several of our surrounding states or other large states in the in the country. Um and so we’re uh pleased with how uh that has gone but sincerely every death is tragic. And at this point um preventable with vaccinations. Um if those deaths were caused by COVID-19. And so um strongly encouraged folks to get vaccinated. But again, our comms team would be happy to follow up with you with greater detail if I haven’t completely answered that for you. Our next question comes from Christy Walton from Fox 29. Last chance for you Christie. All right, we’ll move on. And next we have Nicole Brambilla from L. N. P. News. Thanks so much for taking our questions today. I’m really kind of curious about why you seem reticent to talk about what um um what an endemic phase of the pandemic might look like. I realize we’re following who guidance. But can you speak a little bit towards that when we do finally move um, into an endemic phase. Thank you. Yeah. So let me be clear what we are doing significantly better than we were a month and a half or two months ago. And that is absolutely something to be celebrated and something that every Pennsylvanian who’s gotten vaccinated, who’s gotten boosted, who stayed at home if they weren’t feeling good. Everybody has contributed to that. And so um that is about um what has led us to that place though are a variety of really good public health actions that people have taken. And so I think we are of course following who guidance. But we are also trying to remind folks that it’s those good behaviors that got us than where we were before. And so um regardless of kind of what we call the phase that we’re in, I think this is a moment to pause and reflect on the great work that has been done to get us to this place and to encourage people to continue doing um those good public health actions as federal and international guidance continues to evolve. Such as um you know, mass guidance that we might hear about from the CDC as soon as later today. Um you know, we’ll continue to follow that guidance and called um you know, as we receive that data driven and scientifically driven information. Our next call comes from matt Petrillo from radio hitting about 50 Kibler from the Altoona mirror. Hi, thank you for taking this. Could you explain something that you said why there would be 76% of adults fully vaccinated? But 95% of adults with at least one shot, it seems like a big difference. A surprisingly big difference. Sure. So there’s a variety of reasons why some folks may not have gotten um fully vaccinated for some individuals, uh they could have received their first dose and and covid um which then can change or delay their vaccine timeline. There’s other individuals who perhaps could have received monoclonal antibodies um and again, that could have delayed uh their vaccination timetable or for others, it just wasn’t lenient. Um you know, everybody lives such busy lives. Um and that’s why we’re really encouraging folks that if you aren’t fully up to date on your shots, which is two vaccines of the primary series and then a booster um for most people that you use this time when we’re in a lower state of disease spread uh to get vaccinated. Um And if you have any other questions on that delta uh barry and our team is happy to follow up with you. Our next question comes from Christine lee from the republican herald. Hi pass. Thank you. Thank you. Next up we have jim melt work from K. Y. W. Newsradio. You’ve kind of touched on this a bit or or given a little bit of an explanation on this. But um there’s been a lot of talk recently of CDCs primary job being to remove all risk and their guidance is very broad because that’s to cover the entire country. And so then it kind of falls to local health officials to kind of use that information to best fit their situation? How does your office kind of balance that and as we hopefully move towards these next phases. Is there a time when you don’t, for lack of a better way to put it follow CDC guidance to to a T. So to date the department really has followed CDC guidance very closely. Um And I think we uh certainly are awaiting additional guidance. There’s actually a call later today with all of the state health officials and the CDC to kind of talk about what this next phase really looks like. Um that’s where we anticipate, probably getting some guidance from them around masking as well as other topics. Um and so certainly we received that guidance from the CDC, um and then we look at what’s happening on the ground in pennsylvania to determine if that is a good fit for us. But ultimately, um, CDC has extraordinary scientists who are making data driven and scientifically driven recommendations, uh and that’s what we want to follow. Um and so we do have a track record of following them and I anticipate will continue to do. So, our next question comes from bob mayo from wt a tv in Pittsburgh two elements. To my question 1st, I understand that you’re sort of uh limited in what you can say until the CDC says, whatever they are anticipated to say later in the day, but you’re framing this in terms of uh, you know, preparing the public to move into a new phase at this point, what can you share with pennsylvanians in simple terms about how their lives will be different in this next phase and what they should do or not do as they enter into that next phase. That’s one part and the other part would be if has anticipated the CDC guidance leads to uh relaxation on mask and you loop back to what you were saying before about, uh, how people who may individually have need to or choose to continue to mask, be treated by fellow pennsylvanians, but also by their employers. Yeah, absolutely. Um, so I, I don’t mean to be dodgy, but um, without having heard what the CDC is going to say later today, I am quite limited. Um, but what I would say, big picture is, you know, if the CDC comes out later today and and starts to relax, relax masking, for example. Um, you know, I, I do think that that will make a difference for pennsylvanians, but I also think when we are in this time of lower case counts, um, that’s something that I really hope People tap into and try to understand for themselves, the level of risk that they believe is really out there and posed by getting COVID. And so we’ve had an average in the last seven days across the state of about 2600 cases a day. Um, as you recall, there was an all time high of around 33,000 cases a day. And so these are orders of magnitude lower levels of community transmission happening across the Commonwealth and therefore a very different level of risk. And so lots of people, you may feel more comfortable going to a restaurant for dinner or going to a museum. Um, and maybe even doing those things without a mask or without the stress and anxiety associated with that where, um, you know, I think some people will still feel some of that anxiousness is if you’re immuno compromised or if perhaps um you interact with somebody who is immunocompromised um and you want to continue to take those precautions because any risk is too much risk for you. And I think that’s where we have to recognize that this has been an extraordinarily challenging uh two years for everybody, regardless of whether you’re a frontline healthcare worker, um or or a teacher or whatever your profession, just for us as people, this has been really hard and some people will feel more ready to move out of. Um you know, some of the precautions that they may have been taking and other people may not, and I think it’s important that we be patient with one another as everybody um starts to make those calculations and assessments for themselves and um does the best they can and I think that’s truly what everybody has been doing in the last couple of years. Um but I think as we move into this next phase, really having patience for people and understanding everybody has a different situation um and they’re going to make the decisions that they believe are best for them, I think that’s important. Our next question comes from erin McCarthy from the philadelphia Inquirer As Secretary Klein Peter, thanks for taking the time today um as cases hospitalizations and deaths keep declining as you mentioned. How low do you anticipate them going based on the modeling that your team is looking at what might residents expect for spring and summer in terms of the pandemic. And is there any concern about the lifting, relaxing of measures leading to cases rising again at any point in the near future? Yeah. So unfortunately that crystal ball that we’ve ordered is still on backorder. Um, so I can’t say with any definitive uh, sense exactly what is going to be coming. Um, but what I can tell you is that as a result of people, uh, being up to date with their vaccinations, staying home when they’re not feeling well. Um, you know, wearing that mask when you’re in a crowded indoor space, when case counts are high. Um, that’s really gotten us to the place that we’re in now. And so that’s why to help us all have a good spring and summer. I would just really encourage folks um, to stay up to date with those vaccinations um, to stay home if you’re not feeling good and um, otherwise to continue to watch case counts in your community. And if they uh start to rise that we take some additional precautions. Our next question comes from the K D. K. A news desk or maybe they went for coffee. Let’s go to Mark sims from radio pennsylvania. Anyone from radio pennsylvania. Okay, we’ll move on to Leif Greiss from the morning call? Yeah. Thank you for taking our questions. Um, I wanted to ask if the department has any plans for how it shares its data on on the website related to Covid or anything like that. Will there be any changes to the dashboard as we move into this new phase? Yeah. So, um, that’s a great question. And I think we’ve strived to be as transparent as we can between what’s on the dashboard and what we put on open data. Um, I think at this point we’re going to continue uh, publishing data uh, in the way and at the cadence that we have. Um, but depending on if there are different data sources uh, that we come to rely upon as we move into this next phase, we may change, but we don’t have plans to do so at this time. Our next question comes from paul go from the Pittsburgh Business Times. Hi, secretary. Thanks for taking the time. I appreciate it. And I’m not gonna I’m gonna wait for coffee after until after this. Um, I wanted to talk to you mentioned the therapeutics and vaccines. Can you? Um, and and the availability of them. Can you talk to me a little bit more about the supplies of the the new anti virals and the one monoclonal antibody that works against Macron, where because they were in short supply. I know the state sort of handling the the distribution of, of the supplies from the federal government, what’s that situation like now. And is it going to improve because obviously if you get, oh Macron and you need something that that had been in ration in many areas of the state. Yeah. So I’m really proud to say that um as of today, every county in pennsylvania has at least one site that provides monoclonal antibodies and one site that provides um oral antivirals in many counties. It’s more than one. Um But we have achieved really good geographic distribution to ensure that patients have access and don’t have to travel um incredibly far to receive. What at times is that truly lifesaving treatment that said uh nationally, there has not been sufficient monoclonal antibodies um in particular relative to the number of cases that there were. Um So we’ve seen a rather stable supply of monoclonal antibodies but again as cases have come down um the need to have so many of them hasn’t been there. And so um I don’t uh have any good information but we can certainly follow up with you if the team does on when we expect that supply to increase. Um But I think the good news is that with fewer people getting covid in general, that is really lessening the tight supply constraints um that a lot of pennsylvanians were feeling um just a month or so ago around getting those therapeutic options. Our next question comes from the Butler Eagles. Eddie Trevino. Okay. Appears that Eddie is not there. How about Sophia Schmidt from W. H. Y. Y. I’ll pass. Thank you. Right. Dylan Furin from Fox 56. All right. We’ll move down the list. Sarah Bowden from W E S A. All right. Chris foolery. Yes. Yes. Thank you. Yes. Yes. I, uh, thanks for taking our questions here. Um, I did want to ask if, you know, we saw with the coronavirus cases in patients ramping up hospitalizations. We had a strike team that came out two grand view, health and play january. And then after that, another 12, some health care facilities throughout southeastern pennsylvania. Are those strike teams still active? And also, is that part of the outbreak response moving forward in this, in this next phase as you described? Yeah, that’s a great question. So, um, we have seen across the state, the requests for these strike teams decline um, pretty significantly in the last week or so. Um, we had our every two week meeting with all of the hospitals and health systems on Wednesday. Um, and we solicited feedback from them about whether that was still, you know, really necessary component to the response that we provide. Um, pardon me, and starting to get feedback that the facilities are really feeling like it’s not going to be necessary much longer. And so I think in general, um, the sniff decompression cites the strike teams and the hospital decompression sites that we’ve had stood up. You know, as we really see seeing cases and hospitalizations. Wayne. We’re also really seeing the need for those resources to, uh, wayne. And so we are looking to stand down those capabilities in the coming weeks. Um, I think the one that will take the longest to stand down are the skilled nursing facility decompression sites because we need to ensure that residents are placed um, in a facility that will meet their unique needs. Um, but we will be working to do that over the coming weeks in partnership with the healthcare facilities. Um, and we’ll we’ll go from there if if something changes, um, will continue to be agile. But our plan is to really wrap that up in its entirety by the end of March, um, with a beginning of wrapping it up? Starting this week. Our next question comes from Sarah cassie from Lehigh Valley Express Times. Okay, Okay, we’re gonna move on after. Next up. We have Hayden Minutemen from PBS 39. Hi, thank you for your time. I’ve got a kind of a specific question, but I kind of hope it can be generalized. Um, here in Allentown, our Government Lehigh County’s Government Center, Excuse me. My daughter’s crying. I apologize, uh, is going to be go and its mask mandate on monday considering cases are down, Is that a good idea? Are we at a place in the state where we can end mask mandates at government buildings and I’ll go quiet so you guys want to do. Okay, No worries. I hope she settles for you soon. Um So I think again, I’m really waiting to see what the CDC says later today as of right now, you know, we do still recommend uh masking indoors regardless of your vaccination status. Um But I think it’s been pretty well leaked that the CDC is going to soften their guidance later today. And I expect then our Department of health recommendations will follow the C. D. C. S. Um so more to come on that one. Our next question comes from keith Meyer from the Reading Eagle. Sorry, how about keith are you there? All right. We’re gonna move on to Peyton Kennedy from Wt AJ. No question. Thank you. All right. Do we have paul? Must check from the morning call. Alright, appears one more person on the list. Shaquille Omari from Fox 43 and yes, Samantha york Go ahead. We are also coming up to this two year anniversary of the pandemic. When you look back on just how the state has responded to the pandemic throughout inspiration. How do you feel on a great scale? Maybe that you have done? Yeah, it’s tough to say to be honest, I think um there are many aspects of this response that I am incredibly proud of. Um I think we have done a tremendous job with the vaccine. Rollout providing testing. Um the response that we provided to the hospitals, particularly during the omicron surge. Working with the legislature to pass historic uh dollars for frontline healthcare workers. But of course we’ve always been learning throughout it too. And The science that we had back in March and April of 2020, the lack of vaccine, the lack of therapeutics, um, you know, certainly made it a challenging um situation. Uh, I’m proud of the fact and I think we’ve done a good job of continuously learning and evolving our response um, to the latest science and data that we have. Um, and that’s what I continue to look forward to doing now is waiting to see what the CDC says and then be agile and respond. Okay, we have one more question inside from Priscilla. Allegory. Thanks so much. Um, how confident are you in this latest data given that so many people are utilizing at hometown kits and that so many may also mean, uh, not sure. Yeah. So um, the Department of Health still receives I think on average around 50,000 test results a day, um, which does have good geographic coverage across the Commonwealth um, and is quite statistically significant. And so we do feel confident that we have enough data to make good public health decisions and recommendations. Um, and then really the role of the at home test is so that individuals can take the appropriate public health action such as isolating if they do come back positive. And so um, you know, for now we’ve got good population level data um, through the pcr and antigen tests and then we’re glad people are using the at home tests to take the appropriate action for themselves. And our final question from Dylan Huberman from W. J. C. Good afternoon. So just to be clear because for the moment we can’t say that we’re entering the endemic phase. Can we clarify that even though we are still in pandemic, how far we’ve come And is there another step another echelon to climb before we hit endemic? Yeah and I tried to share that. I mean I I really do think that there is a lot to celebrate right now. Um By way of vaccinations, the tests that have been made available to to pennsylvanians. Um The decrease in case counts, hospitalizations um And mortality. That is all something to celebrate. Um We’re excited about it. Uh And I think we’re definitely moving in the right direction. Again we’re trying to key off of the World Health Organization and the CDC um They still have this declared as a pandemic. Um But certainly we are moving into a new phase. Uh We’re excited about that um But still encouraging people to be cautious and use good judgment. Um So that we can stay in the good place that we’re in now. Um And and all continue to hopefully move back to more of a sense of normal um For now

Pennsylvania’s acting health secretary gives COVID-19 update

Pennsylvania’s acting health secretary gave an update Friday on the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and preparation to move beyond the current phase, the Department of Health said.Watch the news conference with Acting Health Secretary Keara Klinepeter: Click the video player above.The state’s announcement comes on a day when the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released updated masking guidance with less of a focus on positive test results and more on what’s happening at hospitals.Counties are now designated as having low, medium or high COVID-19 “community levels,” according to the new CDC metrics.

Pennsylvania’s acting health secretary gave an update Friday on the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and preparation to move beyond the current phase, the Department of Health said.

Watch the news conference with Acting Health Secretary Keara Klinepeter: Click the video player above.

The state’s announcement comes on a day when the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released updated masking guidance with less of a focus on positive test results and more on what’s happening at hospitals.

Counties are now designated as having low, medium or high COVID-19 “community levels,” according to the new CDC metrics.

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