Pennsylvania Reports 657 Coronavirus Deaths in October, 40% Spike from September

Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf listening to speakers at the event. Governor Tom Wolf today
Governor Tom Wolf

The state of Pennsylvania reported over 600 deaths attributed to the Wuhan coronavirus in October — a sharp reversal after three consecutive months of decline, according to PA Department of Health data.

The state has maintained public archives of COVID-19 data, which posts an updated total death count drawn from the Department’s Vital Records Program as of 11:59 PM on the previous date and broken down by county.

According to the department’s archives, Pennsylvania reported 624 deaths total in October, comparing totaled figures from October 1 and November 2 (the 1st fell on a weekend) — an average of 21.19 per day. According to the Department of Health, no date of death is given on these reports, so it is unclear how many occurred in earlier months and how many occurred in October. The CDC cautions that its own count of death certificates can come between one to eight weeks after a death occurs.

October’s total was a 40.08% spike from the 469 reported in September, according to these same archives. September’s figure was a 2.89% drop from the 483 deaths reported in August. August’s total was a 6.75% decrease from the 518 deaths reported in July. July’s total was a more than 50% drop from June’s tally of 1,114.

Twelve counties did not record any new deaths in August. Eleven of those counties had previously recorded deaths: Crawford, Elk, Greene, McKean, Perry, Somerset, Susquehanna, Tioga, Venango, Warren, and Wyoming. Cameron remains the sole county which has not yet reported any deaths.

Twenty counties reported three or fewer deaths in July: Armstrong (3), Bedford (2), Butler (3), Cambria (2), Carbon (3), Clarion (1), Clearfield (1), Clinton (1), Erie (2), Forest (1), Fulton (2), Jefferson (1), Juniata (1), Lackawanna (2), Mifflin (2), Monroe (1), Pike (1), Potter (1), Sullivan (1), and Wayne (2). Forest, Potter, and Sullivan counties each saw their first reported deaths this month.

Seventeen counties reported four to ten deaths: Adams (5), Bradford (10), Bucks (10), Centre (8), Chester (10), Columbia (8), Cumberland (4), Fayette (8), Franklin (4), Indiana (5), Lebanon (7), Lycoming (6), Mercer (7), Montour (6), Northampton (10), Union (5), and Washington (7).

Eleven counties reported 11 to 20 deaths: Beaver (18), Blair (14), Dauphin (15), Delaware (15), Huntingdon (13), Lancaster (20), Lawrence (12), Lehigh (13), Luzerne (17), Montgomery (14), and Snyder (11).

And seven counties reported more than 20 deaths: Allegheny (60), Berks (30), Northumberland (49), Philadelphia (62), Schuylkill (44), Westmoreland (49), and York (48).

Of the state’s 67 counties, Philadelphia maintains the highest total deaths (1,894), followed by Montgomery (895), Delaware (771), and Bucks (626). No other counties have yet reached 500 total deaths since the state began taking these records in March.

For comparison, the most recent public PA death statistics — from the year 2018 — marks the state’s top causes of death as heart disease (32,713 deaths for the year, an average of 2,726 per month), cancer/malignant neoplasms (27,995 deaths for the year, an average of 2,332 per month), and nontransport accidents (7,207 for the year, an average of 600 per month). [These data were provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Health. The Department specifically disclaims responsibility for any analyses, interpretations, or conclusions.]

These figures reveal a key metric in the ongoing debate over how to respond to another wave of outbreaks. As cases increase, several European nations and American institutions have re-entered lockdown. The pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced Monday that it is seeing promising results from a COVID-19 vaccine that is still in development. In response to this news, former Vice President Joe Biden said that, more immediately, Americans should “make progress on masking” to keep the death count from rising.


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