Lycoming County officials don't know which townships have positive cases of coronavirus, Lycoming County Public Safety Director Jeff Hutchins said today.
"Unfortunately, that's information that I do not have. I'm still trying to find avenues for that but at this point I've just not been able to obtain that," Hutchins said.
Geographically, Lycoming County is Pennsylvania's largest county. It has a land area of 1,228 square miles. As its coronavirus case count rose to two today, NorthcentralPA.com requested case numbers per township from the county commissioners and public safety department.
The commissioners referred the request to Hutchins, who explained that they don't know.
"I'm unable to get that information. We do not have a Lycoming County Department of Public Health like those larger counties do in the Southeast part of the state," Hutchins said.
The Wolf Administration said that the state health department will not release information about individual cases but local health departments may release data as they see fit.
"Local health departments may choose to release data as they believe it is needed to protect public health," Maggi Mumma of the DOH's press office said.
The are six county health departments in the state: Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Erie, Montgomery and Philadelphia.
In Allegheny County, public health officials created an online map showing township-level coronavirus data.
But Lycoming County does not have its own health department.
We asked the DOH's press office if they released individual case data to commissioners or public safety officials in counties without local health departments.
Mumma was not immediately able to answer that question but did say that "local hospitals and testing sites may also have contact with their commissioners."
The state's coronavirus case count updates every day at noon to report positive cases identified by midnight the night before.
It was not immediately clear whether county officials are informed of COVID-19-positive patients any more quickly than members of the general public, the DOH press office said.
"Initially when we had few cases we were working very closely with counties whereas right now it's just a little bit much to do that," a DOH spokesperson said.
"Today is Friday. Say I were to get confirmed right now as covid-positive. What would happen is the commercial lab or wherever I got tested would report to the (state) department of health and then the department of health would include that in the noon release for tomorrow," the DOH spokesperson explained.
A follow-up call to Hutchins requesting additional information about county access to coronavirus case data was not returned in time for publication.