Four Mercer County school districts have suspended activities for two weeks in response to reports of possible COVID-19 exposure.
Jamestown Area School District announced Friday on its Facebook page that it would prohibit activity on school grounds after a staff member had been “in close contact” with someone who had tested positive for COVID-19.
“In order to exercise caution, we are cancelling (sic) all open gyms, band camp, and any other school activities until August 13 or until additional information is obtained,” the post read.
Mercer Area School District took the same action, canceling all school activities until Aug. 17 after a student reported COVID-19 symptoms and took a test for infection. District officials said in a social media post that they would report more information when it becomes available.
On Thursday, Sharpsville Area School District and Wilmington Area School District announced the closing of their campuses and suspension of all activities, including athletics. The suspensions at both schools are scheduled to last two weeks.
Sharpsville officials announced that a student had tested positive for the virus and Wilmington said two staff members had been in contact with someone who had tested positive.
Jamestown’s school complex is located in Mercer County, but it serves students in both northwestern Mercer County and southwestern Crawford County. Wilmington’s campus is in northern Lawrence County, but its student body includes residents of southern Mercer County.
Mercer County adds 25 new cases in two days
After reporting 15 new COVID-19 cases Friday, Mercer County has 331 cases, which includes 292 confirmed and 39 probables. The state Department of Health reported that the state has nine fatalities, a figure unchanged since July 19.
With an increase of 10 cases, the county has had 25 new infection reports in two days, almost as many as it had, 26, in the six preceding days from July 24 to 29.
Mercer County’s rate of positive tests for the past week has been 3.8 percent, less than the state’s 4.6 percent figure. Lawrence County’s positive rate from the last week was 7.4 percent.
Lawrence County topped a list by the state of counties with high positive test rates, followed by Franklin 7.2, Indiana 7.2, Fayette 7.1, Armstrong 7.0, Beaver 6.5, Delaware 6.5, Allegheny 6.4, Lancaster 5.8, Berks 5.6, Philadelphia 5.4 and Chester 5.3.
State reported 860 additional cases, 14 deaths
Pennsylvania health officials on Thursday reported 860 additional cases of the coronavirus, and 14 new deaths.
Allegheny County reported an increase of 132 cases and Philadelphia reported 127 new cases.
More than 111,000 people in Pennsylvania have tested positive for the virus since the beginning of the pandemic, and 7,176 deaths have been attributed to COVID-19, most of them in nursing homes.
Daily case counts have risen nearly 70% since the beginning of July, driven primarily by increased spread in counties in the southern half of the state. The percentage of virus tests coming back positive has risen from a low of 3.3% in mid-June to over 6% now, according to the COVID Tracking Project.
The increasing infection rate prompted Gov. Tom Wolf to recently impose a new round of statewide pandemic restrictions on bars, restaurants and larger indoor gatherings.
The Department of Health removed Wyoming from the list of states on its quarantine list. A recommendation by Gov. Tom Wolf calls for anyone traveling from 19 states to self-quarantine for 14 days after returning from any of the following states — Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah.