Kern County, Indiana, and Pennsylvania Covid-19 Update

By Paul Gipe

I live in Kern County, California and I have family that lives in Madison County, Indiana and Dauphin and Lancaster Counties in Pennsylvania.

I was asked to look more closely at the Covid-19 situation in Pennsylvania. This update reflects the inclusion of Lancaster County.

Tables and charts are normalized by population.

First a summary.

Overall, the three states of Pennsylvania, Indiana, and California have similar total case rates of 800 to 900 cases per 100,000 population. However, death rates and mortality rates differ widely. Both Indiana and Pennsylvania were early hot spots for the disease and were ill-prepared for the consequences. In both states, the disease infected extended care facilities and killed a lot of people.

Though Los Angeles and the Bay area were infected early, the bulk of California escaped the early onslaught of the disease. And since we came later in the course of the pandemic we may have been better prepared, resulting in a lower death rate. This is conjecture. No one knows for sure and we won’t know the reason for the lower death rate until long after the pandemic has passed.

Overall, Lancaster County, Dauphin County, and Kern County have about the same infection rate. Madison County has a substantially lower infection rate than the three other counties. However Lancaster, Dauphin, and Madison counties have a much higher death rate than Kern County. Most of Kern County’s extended care facilities have now had infections or outbreaks and it remains to be seen if this will boost Kern’s death rate. It hasn’t yet.

The four counties are testing for Covid-19 at about the same the rate with Madison County falling behind the others by more than 20%. In any case, testing remains insufficient. Kern County, which has tested about 10,000 people per 100,000 has had to revert to restricting those who would get tests. There’s insufficient testing capability at least in California to test all those who want it or need it in a timely manner. Backlogs have increased to more than seven days, rendering testing almost useless to prevent infections.

Overall, California has tested far more than Indiana or Pennsylvania. Statewide testing is also insufficient.

Pennsylvania has the lowest daily confirmed new cases of the states I am tracking. It’s the same order of magnitude as Indiana and about a quarter of that in California. Pennsylvania’s case rate is about a tenth that of the disasters taking place in Florida and Arizona.

Whatever Pennsylvania is doing right, it can’t stop now because the case rate is increasing. The rate of increase pales in comparison to California and hot spots like Florida and Arizona, but Pennsylvania’s case rate is going in the wrong direction.


The positivity rate among all three states has increased in the past three weeks. This is a worrisome trend. Both California and Indiana are approaching the CDC’s trigger point of 8% positivity rate. Nearly one-fourth those tested in Arizona are now showing positive.

Indiana and Pennsylvania had both done a good job of reducing the horrific death rate since the peak a couple of months ago. California has, unfortunately, seen an increase in the death rate within the past week.

Similarly, Indiana and Pennsylvania have dramatically lowered the mortality rate since the peak. However, the past few days Pennsylvania has seen an increase in the mortality rate. Now is not the time to slack off on controls to prevent community spread of Covid-19.