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Your weekly midstate coronavirus update: COVID-19 cases surge in Franklin County

The largely rural county had the third-highest incidence rate in Pennsylvania last week.

By Brett Sholtis

The Franklin County Courthouse in Chambersburg, Pa.

Via Creative Commons

The Franklin County Courthouse in Chambersburg, Pa.

Many midstate counties are seeing rising COVID-19 incidence rates. Franklin County in particular saw a surge in cases last week.

Franklin County saw 126 new COVID-19 cases between July 17 and July 23 — a significant increase from the 42 new cases it had the previous week, according to the state Department of Health.

The largely rural county had the third highest rate of new cases that week among all Pennsylvania counties, trailing Allegheny and Beaver counties.

That number, known as “incidence rate,” is important because it adjusts for population. It reflects how many people per 100,000 tested positive that week. These were the 10 highest incidence rates in WITF’s 17-county coverage area last week:

  • Franklin — 81.4
  • Dauphin — 48.7
  • Berks — 46.4
  • Lancaster — 45.3
  • Lebanon — 32.6
  • Adams — 28.2
  • Schuylkill — 28.2
  • Huntington — 19.9
  • Snyder — 19.7
  • Mifflin — 19.5

The state health department declined to say what caused outbreaks in Franklin County, but noted that the new cases are not linked to nursing homes or mass gatherings.

Transforming Health recently reported on postal workers refusing to wear face masks in Chambersburg, the county seat.

witf · How masks became political


Franklin is a Republican-controlled county with a state senator, Republican Doug Mastriano, who has publicly encouraged people to flout state guidelines, such as wearing face masks, that help to prevent the spread of the virus.

Mastriano did not respond to requests for comment.

More county-specific Department of Health data is available here. 

Brett Sholtis
Brett Sholtis

Brett Sholtis was a health reporter for WITF/Transforming Health until early 2023. Sholtis is the 2021-2022 Reveal Benjamin von Sternenfels Rosenthal Grantee for Mental Health Investigative Journalism with the Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism. His award-winning work on problem areas in mental health policy and policing helped to get a woman moved from a county jail to a psychiatric facility. Sholtis is a University of Pittsburgh graduate and a Pennsylvania Army National Guard Kosovo campaign veteran.

Read more by Brett Sholtis