NORRISTOWN — As Montgomery County entered week 30 of the coronavirus pandemic, officials reported the lowest positivity rate since the pandemic began, a sign that residents continue to reduce the spread of the virus in the county.
The overall 14-day COVID-19 positivity rate for the county, as of Sept. 25, was 2.36%, according to the data gathered by county health officials.
“We are at our lowest positivity rate since the pandemic has begun,” county Commissioners’ Chairwoman Dr. Valerie Arkoosh said on Wednesday during a news briefing.
Health officials believe having a positivity rate less than 5% indicates the county is controlling the spread of the virus and keeping it suppressed. The county has been below the 5% benchmark since June 18.
To keep the positivity rate below 5%, Arkoosh stressed residents should continue to abide by all mask wearing, handwashing and social distancing recommendations.
“Working together we continue to suppress viral spread here in the county. Happily, we are continuing to see stabilization in our positive numbers. But there does still remain plenty of virus circulating in our communities,” Arkoosh reminded residents.
More people in the county appear to be taking advantage of testing opportunities for the virus. Between Sept. 11 and Sept. 25, there were 24,373 county residents tested at county-run and other testing sites.
“That is the largest number of people that have been tested in a two-week period,” Arkoosh pointed out. “It’s great that we’re seeing more people be tested and the good news is that a large number of those individuals are negative. But the fact that we are testing so many people really helps ensure that we are doing good surveillance of our community and that’s what we want.
“By doing this, we really can get a very quick and rapid ability to suppress an outbreak if we see one begin to crop up,” Arkoosh added.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, officials reported 33 more individuals tested positive for the coronavirus, bringing the county’s total number of cases to 12,030 since March 7, when the first two cases of the virus were identified in the county.
The new positive individuals included 16 females and 17 males, who ranged in age from 7 to 89, according to the latest statistics. One of the new positive cases was a resident of a long-term care facility.
Officials also reported one new COVID-19 death on Wednesday, bringing the county’s death toll to 833. To date, 444 females and 389 males have died from the coronavirus in the county. Those who died ranged in age from 36 to 104.
Officials explained 690 of the individuals who died from COVID-19 lived in long-term care facilities, or about 83% of the total deaths.
On Wednesday, officials reported 29 individuals were currently hospitalized with the coronavirus in county hospitals, with eight requiring a ventilator.
At the peak of the pandemic in April, the county reported several hundred hospitalizations.
Officials said testing is available for all county residents and those who work in the county and want or need to be tested. The county has established outdoor walk-up testing sites in Pottstown, Norristown, Lansdale, Willow Grove, Ardmore and Green Lane to accommodate those who want to be tested.
The county-run sites provide self-administered tests at no cost, although insurance will be billed if you have it. The sites do require an appointment for testing.
“The more we’re able to test our community, whether you have symptoms or not, the more we will know what is happening across the county and be able to quickly suppress outbreaks,” said Arkoosh, who was joined at the news briefing by fellow Commissioner Kenneth E. Lawrence Jr. and county Solicitor Josh Stein.
To register for a test at any of the six sites, residents can visit www.montcopa.org/COVID-19 and click on the county testing information button. Residents can also register for a test at any of the six sites by calling 610-970-2937.
That phone number as well as the online registration will open at 8:30 a.m. daily.
In Pottstown, the testing site is located at the county’s Office of Public Health Pottstown Health Center at 364 King St. Testing is available by appointment Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from noon to 2 p.m. and on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
In Norristown, a testing site is located on the parking lot of the Delaware Valley Community Health Norristown Regional Health Center at 1401 DeKalb St. Testing is available Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 10 a.m. to noon, and on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
In Lansdale, a testing site is located at 421 Main St. and is open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and on Tuesdays and Thursdays from noon to 2 p.m.
Another testing site is located at Deep Creek and Snyder roads in the Green Lane Park area, where tests are available Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and on Tuesdays and Thursdays from noon to 2 p.m.
In Ardmore, a testing site is located at 114 W. Lancaster Avenue where testing is available Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and on Tuesdays and Thursdays from noon to 2 p.m.
In Willow Grove, testing is available at First Baptist Church - Crestmont, 1678 Fairview Ave. Testing there is available Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from noon to 2 p.m. and on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.