good afternoon everyone this is Dr Val Arkoosh chair of the montgomery county board of commissioners welcome to our press briefing for wednesday july the 29th we are in week 21 of the coronavirus pandemic here in montgomery county and week five in the green phase since our july 28 press release we have 44 new cases of covid 19 reported in montgomery county which brings us to a total of 9,517 these positive cases are a result of a positive test for the virus not from the antibody test one of these cases is from a long-term care facility 43 of these cases are from the community of these 43 cases nine tests were conducted over two weeks ago between july 13th and july 15th and an additional nine of these tests were conducted over a week ago during the week of july 16th through july the 22nd these positive individuals are from 22 municipalities leaving us with 61 of 62 montgomery county municipalities home to individuals with covid 19 these individuals range in age from 3 years old to 68 years old and you can always check our county map at for updated geographic information today there are 21 females 22 males and one unknown i am pleased to announce that we have no montgomery county deaths to report today which leaves us at 818 deaths confirmed positive from covid19 overall 438 females and 380 males have lost their lives to covid19 here in montgomery county in terms of our hospital beds pretty much holding steady over the last week we currently have approximately 52 individuals with covid19 hospitalized in a montgomery county hospital with nine individuals requiring a ventilator or approximately 17 percent our community test sites all six of them are up and running around the county as a reminder none of these sites require a car to be tested these sites do not require an appointment i’m sorry these sites do require an appointment all appointments are made the day of testing beginning at 8 30 in the morning you cannot book ahead we do require that the person being tested is a resident of montgomery county or works in montgomery county these county run sites provide testing at no cost though insurance will be billed if you have it they do not require a health care provider’s order and we will test individuals of any age who want or need to be tested the cost of these sites is being covered by CARES act funding that has been allocated directly to montgomery county the test sites are open at the following locations each location has hours that vary each day pottstown the pottstown location is located at the montgomery county office of public health at 364 king street in pottstown in lansdale the site is at 421

main street there’s a site at the willow grove office of public health 102 york road and at green lane at deep creek and snyder road the site in ardmore is at 114 west lancaster avenue and in norristown at 1401 dekalb street at our partner at the delaware valley community health center to register for a test you can go online and register for any of these six locations go to and under the green county testing information button you’ll see a link appointments open at 8 30 a.m on the day of testing please note that because we allow only same day appointments there is language on the appointment website that says each site is closed for testing tomorrow please ignore that language it’s just a glitch in the system and appointments will open for that site every day monday through friday at 8 30 a.m as long as there’s not an issue with the weather phone registration is also available for all six sites at 610-970-2937 that also opens at 8 30 a.m for testing that day there are spanish speaking operators and also language line translators available by phone so working together we have dramatically reduced the viral spread here in montgomery county but there we are still in this thing and this is no time to let up keeping the spread of virus low will enable our businesses to stay open our children to go back to school this fall and keep our hospitals and first responders safe so let’s see how we are doing today so first we’re going to share our date of test graph which as you know has gotten pretty wide so we will have a zoom in here on that graph shortly but as a reminder the gray bars are a representation of the number of people who tested positive on any given day and then we have various averages so the pink and the red lines represent the 7 day and 14 day average of all positive cases the blue lines are the 7 day and fourteen day average of cases from the community and the yellow lines are yellow and orange line are the seven day and fourteen day average from long-term care facilities and you can see that we’ve made very substantial progress in our long-term care facility numbers we are down to about um at least with our 14-day average less than one a day in terms of cases from our long-term care facilities and overall uh in the community our seven day average is also continuing to hold you know pretty stable very slight increase over the last few days a little over one case but you know overall staying very consistently low so that is great news we’re going to show you a new chart today which is the share of total cases by age bracket and we’re sharing this information with you because there’s been a lot of interest and questions about the age of individuals who are as of recent times becoming ill with the coronavirus so if you look at this chart you can see the age brackets and we’re using the brackets that the census uses because that’s where our data can connect to so that’s on the far left next to that you’ll see the percent of montgomery county population that that particular age bracket makes up and then you can see the percent of total cases on may the first and the percent of total cases on july the 29th so we’ve highlighted highlighted the 15 to 19 year old bracket the 20 to 24 year old bracket and the 25 to 34 year old bracket and you can see if we look at the 15 to 19 year olds that in may they were 1.7 percent of the cases and as of today they are 4.4 of the cases with the 20 to 24 year old bracket back in may they were 4.6 percent of the cases and today are 6.7 percent of the cases and in the 25 to 34 year old bracket back on may 1st they were 12.7 percent

of the cases and today they are 13.8 percent so we are seeing an increase uh in the number of cases occurring in those age brackets but you know it’s not as dramatic as other places have seen but i will as i get into some of our reporting from contact tracing today show you where we think those cases are coming from and then finally and most importantly our positivity graph so as a reminder this graph shows in the orange kind of very jaggedy line the number of pcr so this is the test for the virus the number of pcr tests done on any montgomery county resident on each given day and today this graph goes through july the 24th the reason we have a five day lag on this graph is because it takes a while to get a sufficient number of tests back for the recent days that this positivity number is actually meaningful so that orange line is a representation of all of the tests that were done on a montgomery county resident on that particular day and then the blue line is the percent of those tests that were positive so you can see you know way back at our peak in april we were running around 28 and as of july the 24th we are running 3.46 which is a slight decrease from where we were a week ago a week ago when i presented this graph that graph went through july the 17th and we were 3.54 so i’m sure many of you have noticed if you’ve been following our press releases or the our data hub site which is up updated every single day that the the absolute number of cases has been increasing but you can see from this chart that there are also a greater number of tests being conducted in the county and so what’s important is how many percent what percent of those tests are actually coming back positive and that as you can see has been pretty stable now for about a month so that is great news uh being under five percent is an indication that we are doing a good job of suppressing this virus and this is absolutely where we want to be and where we want to stay i think this is an amount of virus in our community that is a map that we can live with until we have a vaccine available so our goal is to just stay the course of where we are so what can you do to help accomplish this number one do not leave home without a mask just don’t leave home without one you pick up your car keys your driver’s license pick up your mask and also if you’re just going out for a walk um in your neighborhood just keep the mask with you in case you run into a friend or a neighbor and you want to have a quick conversation put the mask on for that conversation whenever you are within six feet of someone who is not in your household you need to have that mask on number two keep six feet distant from anyone who’s not in your household this is really hard to do we naturally move toward each other when we have a conversation and you know i’m constantly finding myself having to take a step back take a step back and then finally say to the person stop you’re too close it’s just human nature so we need to be really really conscious of that number three keep your hands clean and away from your face number four get tested and number five cooperate with contact tracing if you test positive can’t stress enough how important it is to cooperate with contact tracing these conversations are confidential and non-judgmental i want to thank everyone because we have seen a big improvement in cooperation with our contact tracers i want to thank you for that and want to remind you why it’s so important that positive individuals share the names and contact information of their direct contacts when a direct contact who is at high risk of exposure to the coronavirus receives a call here’s what happens our contact racers officially inform that individual of their requirement to quarantine due to exposure our contact tracers are able to answer any questions that that individual has about covid19 or refer them for additional guidance contact tracers ask if the individual is able to safely quarantine in their home and if not no cost alternatives are provided

additional supports can also be arranged such as help with food delivery or other unmet needs it’s absolutely critical to the suppression of the coronavirus in our region that everyone cooperates with contact tracing so when you’re called your phone may show any of the following and these are our partner organizations that are helping us do this work the organization ACLAMO which is spelled a-c-l-a-m-o that may show up on the phone Visiting Nurses Association or VNA may show up on the phone Family Services of Montgomery County Montgomery County OIC are also organizations that may show up on the phone but in both of those cases sometimes it just says Unknown and that is also the case for the county office of public health due to a technical situation with our phone system so if you see Unknown pop up on your phone i know it’s none of us want to answer that but right now today if you would consider answering that that could very well be a contact tracer when we could get good contact tracing we learn from that information and then we can let you know what type of activities are putting individuals at risk and before i give today’s contact tracing update i do want to share an update to a situation that was discussed previously two weeks ago we mentioned a youth sports coach who did not provide full details to our contact tracers regarding individuals with whom they had had contact with during the period when they were considered infectious some media outlets incorrectly reported this story we asked those media outlets to correct their stories but we also want to share this correction with you directly specifically this individual did not coach or attend a party after they received their positive test result for covid19 we have also now heard back from this individual who did not fully comprehend the importance of providing as much information as possible to contact tracers they now understand why this is so critical and have agreed to provide all the information they could and this individual is encouraging others to cooperate fully if they receive a call from a contact tracer we deeply appreciate this cooperation and support for our community so here is the are the types of activities where our contact tracers are seeing spread first we’re seeing an increased risk of transmission associated with sports and athletic teams over the last two weeks montgomery county’s contact trace tracer providers and the office of public health have investigated individuals who have tested positive for covid19 that have actively participated in outdoor sports leagues including baseball football soccer lacrosse and field hockey as well as some indoor basketball tournaments in the majority of the investigations individuals were not experiencing symptoms at the time they participated in the sporting events and therefore didn’t know that they were carrying the virus in these the majority of these individuals began to develop symptoms of covid 19 within days after the events and ranging anywhere from one to three days meaning that they were participating while they were able to spread the infection but did not know they had the virus during sporting events individuals who have tested positive have been unable to consistently maintain social distancing which means that they were six feet apart and spent less than 15 minutes less than six feet apart from any other individuals because social distancing couldn’t be maintained entire teams have now been quarantined for 14 days the other place we’re really seeing challenges are with social gatherings this include par includes parties that have been both indoors and outdoors we’ve seen graduation parties fourth of july parties and other social gatherings turning into covid 19 super spreader events not only at indoor events but also at outdoor events it is necessary for individuals to keep six feet of distance between anyone who’s not a household contact an attendee could be infectious and unaware because they do not have symptoms yet when people are crowding together

without sufficient physical distancing not wearing masks there is a large risk of transmission and that goes for indoors or outdoors so one more reminder about wearing masks we’ve had a number of small businesses reach out to us to ask you to please wear a mask inside of all businesses these small business owners are doing everything they can to comply with existing state orders including wearing a mask all day themselves unless you have a specific condition which would prevent you from wearing a mask please respect these businesses which are just starting back on their feet and wear a mask there are limited exceptions to the mask order which include those who cannot wear a mask due to a medical condition those for whom wearing a mask would create an unsafe condition individuals who would be unable to remove a mask without assistance individuals under the age of two and individuals who are communicating or seeking to communicate with someone who is hearing impaired or has another disability where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication unless you fall into one of those categories please respect our community don’t be selfish please just wear a mask we are all in this together and no one wants to have an altercation over wearing a mask so please just wear a mask it’s a simple message and and we need everyone on board with this simple request so with that i’m going to turn over to Commissioner Lawrence for some additional updates [Commissioner] okay good afternoon thank you Val today i’m going to give an update on round three of the montco strong small business grant program the 10 million dollars available for the third round of the program comes from the federal CARES act and i remind people we were pleased to award six million dollars in the first two rounds to 480 small businesses in the county round three grant awards are once again being administered by the redevelopment authority in partnership with the montgomery county department of commerce applications opened on thursday july 16th and closed at 3 p.m on friday july 17th businesses that received round one around two montco strong small business grants were not able to apply in round three and here’s a summary of the applications received during the application period we received 1924 applications 60 of our 62 municipalities were represented 59 percent of the applicants indicate that they applied in at least one of the first two rounds 51 percent of the applicants indicated they are a minority or women-owned business and four percent of the applicants indicated they are a veteran-owned business and 81 percent of the applicants reported revenue of less than 1 million annually annually after reviewing the applications initially the RDA has awarded 60 grants totaling six hundred and thirty one thousand five hundred dollars as of july 27th and they will continue to review and approve applications on a rolling basis until the 10 million dollars is fully awarded grant awardees have been contacted via email by the redevelopment authority of montgomery county with grant contracting instructions a complete list of the awardees from both this round and the first two rounds is available at and as always we would like to thank the board of the redevelopment authority and their staff and also our commerce department staff for all this their hard work to get these funds out to the businesses that as Dr Arkoosh mentioned are working very hard every day to survive and stay open that concludes my report [Commissioner] thank you Commissioner Lawrence so with that i’ll announce that our next virtual briefing will be wednesday august the 5th at 3 p.m and be happy to take any questions [Staff] thanks commissioner this afternoon we’re joined by Deanna Durante from NBC10 and Jim Melwert from KYW1060 we will start our questions with Deanna Durante [Reporter] hello can you hear me yes okay um i’m just touching base i

talked to you about a few topics last week if there had been any more discussion on trying to coordinate flu shot clinics or if the health department was trying to figure out how to get children in the county immunized in a more efficient way than trying to schedule it through doctor’s offices if anything like that’s been discussed this week [Commissioner] yeah you know what i don’t have an update on that yet but i will definitely get you that by next week [Reporter] also social media rumors and i’m using the word rumor here okay i’ll do my best that governor wolf is considering um making schools go virtual for the first 60 days it’s taking social media by storm has the county been notified of any potential changes to school plans [Commissioner] the county has not been notified of any changes to school plans i did speak with the secretary of health this morning and she and i discussed this issue and she conveyed to me that as has been the practice this whole time that there would be a collaborative discussion between their office and any county where they had concerns and that she was unaware of any move to do any sort of blanket order that it would be you know individual collaborative discussions with any counties in which they had concerns about rising case numbers [Reporter] so it would be your hope that you would have some heads up on and it wouldn’t just be announced at a at a press conference and taking people by surprise [Commissioner] that is what was conveyed to me this morning [Reporter] okay all right thank you thank you [Staff] thanks Deanna next we’ll move on to Jim Melwert [Reporter] uh i guess stay on the topic of schools um there’s been school officials and i know a lot of this comes from the state but you’ve kind of been talking to districts and also kind of an intermediary in some cases between the state and school districts uh with school officials basically saying that they feel they’re in an impossible position because the guidance from the state we talked about the the six feet where feasible it they’re getting attacked from both sides because one side’s saying six feet the other side’s saying where feasible and they just feel like no matter what they do they’re going to get crushed by you know 40 percent half whatever of parents the community whatever and they also feel that this isn’t their strong suit that they’re not they’re they’re they’re not in in public health um and you said that there’s no blanket statement coming down but but is is there a way for either you or the state or someone with a public health background to help them with more strict guidance that that would allow them then to pass on their plans to parents [Commissioner] well we’ve been in regular communication as i’ve as i’ve stated in the past weekly meetings with our 22 school superintendents and by the way i just again want to let everyone know how hard they have been working i mean these are real heroes in this moment our schools have a really formidable challenge ahead of them uh there i don’t think is a building in this county where uh they there isn’t some number of classrooms where they cannot get kids six feet apart if they were to have all of the normal number of children that were in that classroom in that classroom so you know that’s kind of where they are starting from these schools are also trying to balance some very important needs for students not only just the in-person education but issues around food and nutrition the ability to see a nurse sadly schools you know keep an eye out and screen for abuse of children and then there’s family situations where parents very much in a number of cases need to be able to go to work not every family has good internet connectivity or a device particularly if they have more than one child in the home they’re trying to balance the needs of teachers and staff who might have underlying medical conditions as might some students that would make them susceptible to the coronavirus in a more serious way and um you know all of this is coming together in in a very very complicated situation so we have been providing substantial support to the departments myself and members of our office of public health have now met with several individual school boards who asked to have individual meetings just to really go through this and our role here at the county is to provide that guidance and support

we have conveyed to them that whatever those school boards and those are the elected school board officials who have the responsibility of making the decision for their individual department you know knowing what their individual district knowing what the composition of their district is most of them if not all of them have done some kind of polling of the families in that district it is up to them to make the decision that’s best for their district and we are here to support them no matter what that decision is so we’re starting to see different decisions rolling out from different departments and we will do everything we can to support each district in whatever decision they make that they conclude is best for their particular situations [Reporter] uh testing um do you know how many tests are being done or is there kind of an average uh daily uh and is there a breakdown between county tests and private tests when you show us those numbers are those all the tests being done or those the tests that the county is is responsible for collecting [Commissioner] yep so that positivity graph that has that orange jaggedy line that is that represents all of the people in montgomery county that have been tested anywhere so the county’s tests the drug store tests a hospital in Center City’s tests anybody who is a montgomery county resident they’re in that orange line in terms of the number of tests so you can look at that graph and get a sense of exactly how many people are being tested uh each day and then we see how many of those test positive and then that gives us our positivity number and and that is deduplicated so um i know that question’s come up come up before once somebody’s tested positive we don’t and and there are many valid reasons why people will get tested again you know sometimes even more than twice uh we don’t count them again so we only count somebody’s positive one time [Reporter] and this came up a lot early on when went with the state numbers and and the county numbers uh when we the the state i believe has a site now that’s showing positivity rates and then your positivity rates and and i haven’t checked today or or yesterday but they weren’t really lining up is that because of the things that we talked about before with with how you guys go through each one and kind of pull out duplicates etc [Commissioner] yeah so there’s there’s several issues there one is sometimes there’s duplicates on the list two somebody has the has incomplete address information and they end up getting assigned to the wrong county so we go through and make sure that everybody that we report to you on is actually one of our residents you have to really look at what’s being reported both on our data and the state’s data are they reporting date of test result or date that the test was conducted so our positivity graph which is now on our hub website reports by date of test and that’s been particularly important in these recent weeks when we’ve seen this lag in getting our test results in fact at the beginning of this briefing i i called out you know 18 tests of the number that we reported today that were either over a week or over two weeks old so our positivity number is by date that the test was conducted so you can see some discrepancies there i think some of the data that the um state is reporting might be by date of test report that means the day we got the result [Reporter] uh and uh is the county where or where would you like the county to be as far as daily tests and and how far uh if if they’re not there how far away is the county from that number [Commissioner] so that’s always a really difficult question to answer i can tell you that um as of today there have been a hundred and twenty one thousand two fifty-two tests total tests conducted on montgomery county residents but there are people in that number that have been tested more than once so that is not a deduplicated number but that just gives you a sense since the beginning of well it would have been i think it was in late february that our first people were tested uh we’ve tested they’ve been a total of 121,252 tests done in the county so this gives you a just a

general idea so in terms of how many tests we should be doing a day there’s been some modeling and i i’ve looked at this particularly with the harvard global health group they have suggested that as long as you’re in a place where the disease where the virus is fairly well controlled which is where we’re at right now you should be doing enough testing that you are getting about a three percent positivity rate so that means that you’re testing a lot of people who are testing negative but when you’re doing public health surveillance that’s what you want to be doing you should be testing a whole bunch of people who test negative in the hopes that you’re going to pick up those occasional positives and you know get them into isolation and get their direct contacts quarantined so we’re doing enough testing now and you can see by looking at that that orange line on the positivity graph that we had been slowly steadily increasing the amount of testing that we’re doing in the county and that’s not just the county it’s you know our hospitals it’s the drug stores it’s it’s everyone who’s doing testing um so we’re getting about three and a half percent positivity rate so you could argue that it would we should try to increase our testing a bit from where we’re at at least with our current level of virus suppression and the county is very much hoping to do that soon we have as of today uh signed a contract with Mako Medical this is a company that is based in north carolina and we they also have a relationship and and the way that we got connected with them is they have a relationship with a very large integrated physician network here in the delaware valley known as TPIN the physicians integrated network and so they have already have local relationship and we’re going to be sending our tests to them and these are the tests from the six county sites hopefully uh within about a week to 10 days we have some uh uh IT data integration that has to get set up before we can start but we’re hopefully you know fairly soon going to be doing that and they are contractually obligated to a 36 hour turnaround time on our tests and so that should really really help us do very robust contact tracing because we’ll be getting those test results back so quickly and they also have the ability to increase the amount of tests that we’re sending them so we’re hoping to ramp that up as quickly as possible and have up to you know down the road it’s going to take us probably a month to get there but hopefully around 100 tests per site per day monday through friday at our county testing sites [Reporter] i was getting to the Mako question um and and and with that kind of uh what are you hearing as far as how long results are taking to come back [Commissioner] oh well i i gave you some indication of that with the presentation of today’s results um it’s taking across the board anywhere from eight to fourteen days and that goes for quest labcorp uh whoever cvs and rite aid are using i think they’re using either quest or labcorp i’m not sure the lab that which is by a reference lab that does work for the medical provider in our correctional facility um you know across the board it’s it’s taking that long our hospitals do have a limited very limited capacity for more rapid testing but they also end up sending tests out too ones that are um less time sensitive so it’s just across the board it’s taking that long and that’s just an unacceptable amount of time [Reporter] and correct me if i’m wrong but the county is or was contracted with quest does the the contract with mako affect that contract [Commissioner] no we still will have a contract with contract with quest [Reporter] okay uh and and and some clarification on on the youth sports that you discussed uh is there any conversation surrounding uh and uh the the last i recall with you sports it was they could be out there as long as they were distanced has that changed can they can they do games and and things where they’re they’re closer to each other [Commissioner] well so the thing that’s really complicated this is that um PIAA which is the statewide organization that governs the sports for public schools you know said that fall sports could start and that

schools could begin to call student athletes back to begin conditioning for the fall and things like that so there seems to be every intention to go ahead and let fall sports happen uh our youth leagues had been playing games uh the youth summer leagues since we’ve been in the green phase in the yellow phase we allowed them to start practicing with social distancing in place uh once we got into the green phase both you know the state and us you know said you can play these games but you really really need to be careful and we advise them to stay socially distant on the sidelines or in dugouts with masks on and it does not appear that that is happening consistently and of course when they’re actually playing you know depending upon the sport you you can’t keep socially distant or have a mask on and so i’m not surprised that we’re seeing these outbreaks happen across sports teams and i just think you know parents and families need to be aware of this and again it’s just another decision to make about whether or not they want their child to be participating in these sports at this moment in time it is definitely uh it definitely carries risk [Reporter] and how significant are i mean you mentioned these are happening how significant are these numbers is it to the point where uh you would recommend revisiting it or is it just to the point where you’re you’re telling parents to be aware that’s happening and and it’s out there [Commissioner] i think with every decision that we’ve been talking to families about recently this is one of those situations where families should do their own personal risk assessment if a family has a member in that household that is at high risk from serious complications from the coronavirus so that includes underlying respiratory conditions diabetes obesity or anything that would compromise the immune system such as a cancer active cancer diagnosis those would be examples of conditions that would put a person at high risk and the same would go for the person playing the sports you know if they had any underlying medical conditions that would put them at risk so if that’s the case a family you know i think should just be thoughtful about whether or not they participate or their child participates in youth sports [Reporter] so to be clear then then uh you don’t feel that these these numbers have risen to the level where it’s it’s time to reconsider youth sports [Commissioner] uh they have not yet but we are watching it very very closely [Reporter] okay and and Mako uh that that contract you said you hope to have those those tests within a week or tests going to samples going to Mako within a week [Commissioner] it’ll probably be more like 10 days a week and a half to 10 days they’re working on some back end data integration between our office of public health and our appointment website they also have to do some final integration with the state’s reporting system which they’re required to report to so it’ll be a matter of getting those pieces in place and then i think we’ll be ready to go so hopefully you know a week to 10 days [Reporter] and this question um with these these youth sports outbreaks um can you infer anything from that or is there any way to connect that i’m sure people will hear that and say well that just shows you know that we can’t open schools because kids playing youth sports are getting infected can you draw a correlation between the two or no [Commissioner] well i think schools can certainly offer all of their academic offerings and make a separate decision about sports so i don’t i don’t see those two as as intertwined necessarily a school could choose to be open for academics and not offer a sports opportunity for the fall for instance [Reporter] oh i i did forget uh i’ve been asking you about rapid tests uh and just to ask that is is there any any any rapid tests that you believe are uh worthwhile uh and or and or available [Commissioner] yeah i don’t have any update on that i think it remains a challenge to have a a sensitive and uh you know low-cost and available rapid test i i don’t think we’re there yet [Reporter] all right great i’m i’m good thanks

[Staff] thanks Jim we have no further questions today [Commissioner] all right well thank you Megan for interpreting today and we will see you all next wednesday august 5th at 3 p.m thank you