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Coronavirus in Pennsylvania

Will Schuylkill County Finally Go Yellow Today? Numbers Don’t Add Up

yellow light schuylkill county coronavirus

yellow light schuylkill county coronavirus

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf expects to announce a new round of counties to move into the Yellow phase of the coronavirus reopening plan today.

In Schuylkill County, we waited – sometimes impatiently – to get moved into the Yellow phase.

People counted new case totals. They used the bizarre metric of no more than 50 cases per 100,000 people over a 14-day period (or whatever it is) to figure out if we’ll advance on the coronavirus gauntlet.

And for 3 rounds of announcements, we’ve sat disappointed when Wolf failed to move Schuylkill County into the Yellow.

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So, is there hope for today? Wolf indicated on Thursday that some counties could be moving to the Green phase already, even though he hasn’t publicly announced how to get there.

UPDATE: Despite the numbers not being there, as we note below, Wolf still moved Schuylkill County Yellow phase on Friday, May 22.

Schuylkill County Moving to Yellow?

As much as we wanted to see Schuylkill County go on its own and move itself to Yellow, we don’t think it’s going to happen today.

Hopeful, yes. Confidence level is low, though.

If Wolf does announce we’re moving to Yellow, he’ll be playing cards he probably doesn’t want to play. And we’ll have to wonder what’s different today that wasn’t in place for the previous announcements.

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Daily Case Totals

It all comes down to those daily case counts.

If the Governor does move us to Yellow, the jig is up on the daily case totals.

We reported previously that these numbers are, as one Presidential candidate might put it, a bunch of malarkey.

What gets reported as new daily case numbers aren’t necessarily and often not actual new cases. The state reports them as new but they’re not. Sometimes, especially recently, the cases are weeks or MONTHS old.

Take a look at this chart released by State Sen. Dave Argall in his most recent email update to constituents:

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schuylkill county coronavirus cases chart

Image provided by PA Sen. Dave Argall

Without doing the math, you can see that the so-called daily case totals are almost higher now than they’ve been through the entire pandemic response. Remember, County Commissioners told us publicly this week that based on their meetings with Levine and the Governor’s office last weekend, the one thing we needed to improve was our daily case count.

So, why would it be OK for Schuylkill County to move to Yellow now and not, say, in the middle of April when we had a run of case totals around 10 per day?

Again, it’s because these daily totals aren’t actually new cases. And even those tall spikes you see on that chart, they’re not real either.

This information and analysis isn’t speculation whatsoever.

State Health Sec. Rachel Levine admits that those big spikes are the result of “data dumps” of cases that eventually get confirmed in batches. But the state feels compelled to report them as new daily cases.

The same can be said for the recent “high” numbers over the last couple weeks.

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Levine admits that some of those cases aren’t new at all, either. In addition to so-called data dumps, the state is also including positive antibody tests in new daily case totals. So, someone who allegedly had the virus weeks or months ago and gets a positive antibody test will have that result included as a “new” case.

So, if Schuylkill County does get told today it’s moving to the Yellow phase, the jig will be up on these case counts.

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  1. Linda H

    May 22, 2020 at 9:25 am

    Well, this is the same governor who (earlier this week) said real estate could not open up, then two hours later gave them the green light.
    So? Hope for the best, expect the worst and maybe get surprised?
    Lets just say if he does move you to yellow, do not ask why, do not argue, to not ask! Just go run (like hell) with it!

    • Linda H

      May 22, 2020 at 9:26 am

      Should say, best not to ask!

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