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COVID-19 cases continue to rise across Philadelphia, averaging at 232 new COVID-19 cases per day in the past two weeks. Credit: Kylie Cooper

COVID-19 cases are on the rise across Philadelphia as many Penn students, faculty, and staff prepare to travel over Thanksgiving break.

Philadelphia has had an average of 232 new COVID-19 cases per day in the past two weeks, up from an average of 172 cases per day on Nov. 4, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. The positivity rate also inched up, from roughly 2% to 3%.  

While cases are up in Philadelphia, the rate remains low on Penn’s campus. A total of 59 Penn community members tested positive for COVID-19 in the week ending Nov. 13, up from 39 the week before. The positivity rate also increased from 0.35% to 0.45%, the highest it has been since early September. 

Penn Chief Wellness Officer Benoit Dubé said that many of the cases at Penn were linked to transmission by unvaccinated members such as children. City health commissioner Cheryl Bettigole expressed a similar sentiment about Philadelphia, saying that a lack of vaccination among young children is partly to blame for an increase in cases among residents ages 10 to 19. 

The Philadelphia Department of Public Health encouraged children to get vaccinated to offset a larger surge in cases as cold weather arrives and the holiday season approaches. According to city testing data, those aged 0 to 20 years old have the highest case rate of any age group as of Nov. 7.

Since federal authorities approved doses for 5 to 11 year olds in early November, 6,382 young children in Philadelphia have been vaccinated — equivalent to 5% of the citywide population of 5 to 11 year olds. About 10% of all children 5 to 11 nationwide have received a vaccine since the rollout began, according to the White House, the New York Times reported. Similar to when vaccines were made eligible for younger adults, there is a racial disparity in vaccination rates among children.

After a decline in cases throughout most of the U.S. this fall, the trend in Philadelphia mirrors an uptick in COVID-19 cases in Pennsylvania and across the country. 

The U.S. reported a daily average of 85,861 cases per day on Nov. 16, up 18% from two weeks ago according to a New York Times database. In Pennsylvania, cases are up 33% and the hospitalization rate is down 3% compared to two weeks prior. Philadelphia remains the county with the lowest case rate per capita in Pennsylvania.