READING, Pa. The Berks County Commissioners on Thursday morning heard the director of the Berks County Department of Emergency Services announce that he is ending, or at least pausing, the weekly COVID-19 data report given at the weekly commissioners’ meeting.
“We want to let the public know that we will continue to monitor these things behind the scenes at the societal, national and global levels,” Brian Gottschall said. “We want to maintain continuous data, so if we need to bring it back and show it to the public, we can make it available without a break in continuity. If the change in data justifies a return to the public data report, we will bring it back.”
Gottschall has made the weekly presentation at the top of every week’s agenda since the pandemic began in 2020.
While Gottschall noted that there is still a decline in COVID-19 cases, the numbers have started to rise.
“We see that we are now down to the fact that about 85% of the counties in the nation are still in high portability,” he said. “And just as a reminder, about three to four weeks ago that figure was, I think, 99.8%. So we’re seeing improvements.”
Berks County remains in the high transferable category.
Gottschall, however, raised two areas of concern.
The first is that there is again an upward cross in the number of influenza cases. While cases of influenza were high in December, the number had dropped markedly in January and February.
The second problem area is the Omicron BA.2 sub-variant.
“There has been an increasing percentage of cases from this week, according to the Centers for Disease Control,” Gottschall said. “What we do know about this variant is that we are now looking at a 30 to 40% increase in transmissibility compared to Omicron.”
In addition, Gottschall cited a Danish study that suggests that it is possible to contract the sub-variant after having Omicron.
Out of 150 cases looked at in the study, 45 of those cases were reinfections, Gottschall reported.
Gottschall also reported that Berks Cares Vaccine Center will change its opening hours from March 5 and will only be open Saturday morning from 6 p.m. 9.00 to kl. 12.00
In addition, the Commissioners made two appointments:
Stephen L. Rowe was appointed as a computer forensic specialist at a rate of $ 76,600. The position was newly created in November for the prosecution.
Doug Grove was promoted to assistant park ranger supervisor from park ranger in the park and recreation department for an annual salary of $ 49,000. This is also a new position, which was created in September.