Is social-distancing working? Montgomery County health officials think so

Jim Melwert
March 24, 2020 - 8:15 pm

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NORRISTOWN, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — Montgomery County health officials announced 23 new positive coronavirus cases on Tuesday, bringing the total in the county to 159 — the second-largest amount across the state, behind Philadelphia County.

But they say they have reason to believe social distancing is working to limit the number of new coronavirus cases. 

Montgomery County Commissioner Val Arkoosh said they still have more than 1,000 pending tests from the community drive-thru testing site on Temple Ambler’s campus. As those results come in, they expect to see a jump in numbers — not necessarily because the virus is spreading, but simply because of the expansion of testing. 

However, she doesn’t want people to see that jump and think the social distancing and stay-at-home orders aren’t working.

“No one should be discouraged — in fact, just the opposite,” she said. “We’re cautiously hopeful that we’ve been able to put social mitigation strategies into place, which we started the very week that we got notified we had presumptive positives.”

Drive-thru testing expands

Although the numbers continue to rise, county officials are relaxing restrictions on who is eligible to get an appointment for a COVID-19 test at the county’s drive-thru site. 

When it first opened late last week, Montgomery County’s testing site was limited to people who had a fever and cough. But now, Arkoosh said they’re expanding the eligible symptoms.

“Loss of smell or taste; also including gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Whether or not they have fever, (they) will be welcomed for testing,” she said.

Arkoosh said supplies are still limited, so they want to save tests for people who need it — either vulnerable populations who could see serious issues from the disease, or for essential workers like first responders and medical workers.

She said if people who do not have underlying health issues are experiencing minor symptoms, they should assume they have it and self-isolate.