COVID-19 093020

COVID-19 has claimed its 30th victim in Franklin County, with the death of an 87-year-old Catawissa man from complications due to the virus.

Cases of the virus also reached a new one-day high Saturday, with a total of 51 new cases reported in 12 municipalities in Franklin County.

Another 66 cases, 35 on Sunday and 31 Monday, brought the weekend total to 117. New cases dropped to 21 on Tuesday.

For the month of September, new cases have increased by 781, making the current total 1,813.

Before Saturday, the one-day high for new cases was 42, recorded just last Friday.

Franklin County has averaged 30 new COVID-19 cases per day for the past two weeks.

Presiding Commissioner Tim Brinker said cases will continue to rise, and it’s up to the public to make smart choices. “People are making a big issue of caseload,” Brinker said. “The virus is here, and it’s going to continue to spread. People need to do what they need to do to minimize it.”

The 10-day rolling total of new cases now stands at 323 with a testing positivity rate of 10.6 percent over the same time period.

As of Tuesday, just over 29,700 county residents have been tested for COVID-19 with a positivity rate of 6.1 percent.

Virus-related hospitalizations at Mercy Hospital Washington dropped from 15 over the weekend to 11 on Tuesday, but the number of positive cases in long-term care facilities rose to 14 on Saturday and remained at that total Tuesday.

Last week, after a bailiff tested positive for the virus, Presiding Judge Ike Lamke put the county courthouse back on phase one restrictions, which limits court proceedings to those matters which are time sensitive and/or involve threats of harm or injury.

Residents are urged to contact their attorneys, the prosecuting attorney or other sources to check the status of cases in order to avoid making an unnecessary trip to the courthouse.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the courthouse has followed the strictest COVID-19 precautions, including mandatory masks, temperature checks and visitor screenings, and limited the number of people allowed in each courtoom.  

The same precautions have not been followed at the neighboring Franklin County Government Center where bailiffs also work on a rotating basis for security in the lobby, and there is no mandatory mask regulation.

Franklin County Sheriff Steve Pelton said the bailiff who tested positive was asymptomatic and had not recently worked at the government building. “This isn’t the first deputy to test positive,” he said. “We make sure they are all in rotating shifts so they aren’t exposed to each other.”