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August 09, 2021

In Philly region, all people should wear masks indoors, per CDC guidelines

COVID-19 transmission rates are now 'substantial' or 'high' in every county

COVID-19 transmission rates are again reaching concerning levels in the Philadelphia region, according to the latest data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Every county in Southeastern Pennsylvania and South Jersey now have "high" or "substantial" levels of transmission, as determined by the CDC. This means, according CDC guidelines, everyone in the region should be masking up when indoors — regardless of vaccination status. 

The latest data covers the period between Aug. 1-7. All five Southeastern Pennsylvania counties have "substantial" transmission. In South Jersey, Camden, Burlington and Gloucester counties all have "high" transmission.

When the CDC revised its masking guidelines late last month, none of these counties were experiencing "substantial" or "high" transmission. Now, most Pennsylvania and all New Jersey counties have transmission rates that merit indoor mask usage, the CDC says.

The CDC defines "substantial" transmission as 50-99 new cases per 100,000 residents over a seven-day stretch or a test positivity rate of 8-9.99%. "High" transmission means a county is experiencing more than 100 new cases per 100,000 residents or has a test positivity rating greater than 10%. 

The Philadelphia Department of Public Health is "closely watching what's going on with cases and hospitalizations and if things get worse, would explore responses to help curb the spread," spokesperson James Garrow said. 

The CDC and public health experts continue to emphasize that the best way to slow community transmission is for every eligible person to get vaccinated. 

The delta variant is a concern for both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals, but severe COVID-19 cases mostly are being seen among people who are not vaccinated. The vaccines still overwhelming prevent hospitalizations and death. 

However, the delta variant has proven more adept at causing symptomatic illnesses among vaccinated people. In such cases, the viral load of vaccinated people is similar to the viral load of unvaccinated people. That's why the CDC is recommending indoor mask usage in areas of substantial and high transmission. 

As of Monday, 6.78 million Pennsylvania residents have been fully vaccinated — about 53%, according to the CDC. In New Jersey, 5.24 million people have been fully vaccinated, about 59% of the population. 

The tables below show the transmission and vaccination rates for Southeastern Pennsylvania and ,South Jersey, according to the CDC. They also show the rates of increase among COVID-19 cases and the test positivity rate. 

Southeastern Pennsylvania

 CountyCases per 100,000Percent change in last 7 daysTest positivity ratePercent change in last 7 daysFully vaccinated
 Bucks74.4932.58%4.93% 1.59%57.2%
 Delaware 73.2232.59%4.72%1.1%58.4%
Montgomery 71.6119.48%4.05%0.62%55.2%
Philadelphia 90.9773.82% 5.41% 1.49% 45.5%

South Jersey

 CountyCases per 100,000Percent change in last 7 daysTest positivity ratePercent change in last 7 daysFully vaccinated

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