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November 11, 2021

Pennsylvania's COVID-19 case total to jump due to inclusion of reinfection data

Health officials are now counting people who contract the coronavirus a second time as two cases

Philadelphia's daily COVID-19 tally jumped to 1,667 cases one day last week and similar increases are expected to happen statewide Monday, but this is not due to a huge wave of new infections.

The city added all 1,519 of its reinfections tallied since the beginning of the pandemic to its total case count on Wednesday, and the rest of the state's counties will be adding reinfections to their tallies Monday, a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of Health told the Morning Call. Reinfections previously were not counted as separate cases.

A reinfection is defined a person who tests positive a second time at least 90 days after testing positive for the first time, according to a tweet from Philadelphia Public Health.

Philadelphia and state health officials are following the lead of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which also is including reinfections, said James Garrow, a spokesperson the city's health department. He noted that the state requested the city make the change, and that it's now a standard practice nationwide.

The change in the way the city calculates its COVID-19 cases came as city health officials shared news about the city's vaccination rate.

As of Tuesday, 90% of the city's adults have had at least one vaccine dose. About 61% of the city's eligible population, including children ages 5 and older, is now fully vaccinated. 

The news follows Camden, New Jersey, passing a similar milestone late last month. Over the summer, officials worried about the city's low vaccination rate, and began a campaign to inoculate 70% of its adults, a goal that was reached Oct. 22.

At present, 53% of the eligible population in the city is fully vaccinated. That rises to 64% in Camden County.

In Gloucester and Burlington counties, 58% and 71% of their eligible populations are fully vaccinated, respectively.

In Southeastern Pennsylvania, Bucks County has 58% of its eligible population vaccinated while Montgomery and Delaware counties have 59% and 58% respectively.

These increased vaccination rates come as public health officials have begun promoting boosters for seniors and people with underlying medical conditions.  

So far, Philadelphia has administered 11,999 boosters while Bucks County has administered 58,471 and Montgomery and Delaware counties have administered 78,988 and 47,798 respectively. Statewide, Pennsylvania has administered 1,134,103.

The vaccination totals for each municipality except Camden City were taken from COVID Act Now and the eligible population for each municipality was calculated from the U.S. Census Bureau's 2019 population estimates.

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