HARRISBURG — Montgomery County and six neighboring counties recorded decreases in coronavirus positivity rates and several inched closer to the recommended threshold for suppressing the virus, according to the latest data compiled by state health officials.

For the period Feb. 12 to Feb. 18, Montgomery County recorded a COVID-19 percent-positivity rate of 5.8%, a decrease from the 7.4% positivity rate recorded during the seven-day period Feb. 5 to Feb. 11, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring System Dashboard.

Health officials believe having a positivity rate less than 5% indicates a county is controlling the spread of the virus and keeping it suppressed.

The county recorded the first two cases of the virus in March 2020 and this week marks the 51st week since the virus surfaced in the county.

Bucks County recorded the highest positivity rate in the region at 8.2% for the period ending Feb. 18, down from 9.6% the previous week.

Montgomery County’s other five neighbors recorded decreases in positivity rates but all were still above the preferred 5% threshold for the most recent seven-day period, according to the state’s data.

Montgomery County’s other neighboring counties recorded the following percent-positivity rates during the seven-day period ending Feb. 18: Lehigh (7.9%); Berks (7.6%); Delaware (6.0%); Chester (5.6%); and Philadelphia (5.2%), according to state statistics.

Gov. Tom Wolf said the state’s COVID-19 dashboard is designed to provide early warning signs of factors that affect the state’s mitigation efforts.

The statewide percent-positivity rate as of Feb. 18 was 6.5%, down from the 8.0% positivity rate recorded the previous week, according to the dashboard.

State officials said 16 counties currently have a positivity rate lower than 5% and there are no counties reporting over 20% positivity rate.

State and local officials have urged citizens to continue to abide by COVID-19 mitigation measures including wearing a mask, avoiding gatherings, washing hands, downloading the COVID Alert PA app, and getting vaccinated when it’s your turn.

COVID Alert PA is a free mobile app, offered by the Pennsylvania Department of Health, that uses Bluetooth low energy technology and the Exposure Notification System, created jointly by Google and Apple, to notify and give public health guidance to anyone who may have been in close contact with a person who also has the app and has tested positive for COVID-19.

“Following these proven public health practices, our mitigation orders, and most importantly, the resilience of our fellow Pennsylvanians to unite against COVID-19, Pennsylvania is seeing encouraging data relating to less COVID-19 spread within the community as we report lowered statewide positivity rates as well as lowered case counts,” Wolf said on Monday.

“While we know there is reduced community spread, it is still important to continue public health efforts across the state,” Wolf added.

As of Feb. 18, the state recorded a seven-day case increase of 14,886 cases. The previous seven-day increase was 20,347 cases, indicating 5,461 fewer new cases across the state over the past week compared to the previous week.

“As we continue our COVID-19 response, the department of health is working with vaccine providers to get vaccine into arms across the commonwealth,” Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam said on Monday.

“While we do have access to limited vaccine allotments from the federal government, the importance of the proven health practices and mitigation efforts remain important. While we await more vaccine, we encourage people to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by wearing a mask, washing hands and social distancing,” Beam added.

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