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Pa. reports more than 800 new COVID-19 cases

The Pennsylvania Department of Health reported more than 800 new coronavirus cases Thursday, the highest number of new cases in several weeks.

The health department reported 832 new coronavirus cases Thursday, raising the statewide total to 88,074. It’s the biggest number of new cases reported since May 22.

Across Pennsylvania, 6,712 deaths have been tied to COVID-19, including 25 new fatalities reported Thursday. More than two-thirds of the state’s coronavirus deaths have occurred in long-term care facilities, including nursing homes.

The state has reported more new coronavirus cases in recent days, regularly topping 600 new cases in the past week. However, that still remains below the numbers seen in the early spring, when new cases regularly topped 1,000 per day.

“Our latest data shows that the number of COVID-19 cases is increasing across the state,” Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said in a statement. “The virus has not gone away.”

On a positive note, fewer people are in hospitals due to COVID-19. About 630 people COVID-19 patients are being treated in hospitals, according to the health department. That’s less than a quarter of the peak number in the spring. There are 702,199 people who have tested negative.

Still, the uptick in new cases prompted Levine to issue an order Wednesday expanding requirements to wear masks when leaving the home, with some limited exceptions. Gov. Tom Wolf is urging Pennsylvanians to wear masks.

“This mask-wearing order is essential to stopping the recent increase in COVID-19 cases we have seen in Pennsylvania,” Wolf said in a statement.

LOCAL RESTRICTIONS

On Tuesday, Philadelphia officials announced they are holding off on plans to resume indoor dining in the city, saying the city isn’t seeing a drop in new cases. Philly initially planned to allow indoor dining on Friday. The city is also pausing plans to allow bars and gyms to reopen.

Across the state, Allegheny County officials are no longer allowing diners to drink alcohol in bars and restaurants due to a spike in COVID-19 cases. Allegheny County reported more than 230 new cases Thursday.

Over the past seven days, the health department has reported 4,304 new cases, an increase of 770 new cases over the previous week (an increase of about 22 percent). During the week of June 12-18, the state reported 2,923 new cases.

Going forward, Wolf said in a news conference Wednesday he expected local government leaders would drive decisions on adding new restrictions to respond to the coronavirus. With increased testing and contact tracing, Wolf said the state and local leaders can respond more surgically to problem areas before having to employ statewide measures.

Wolf has already moved virtually all of Pennsylvania into the green phase, the least restrictive in his color-coded plan to reopen the state.

On Friday, Lebanon County, the only county in Pennsylvania still in the yellow phase, can move into the green phase.

In the green phase, schools can reopen and restaurants can offer indoor dining. Casinos, theaters and other indoor entertainment venues can reopen, albeit with some restrictions.

NURSING HOMES

Statewide, 4,590 coronavirus deaths have occurred in nursing homes or personal care homes, according to the health department. Those deaths represent about 68 percent of the state’s COVID-19 fatalities.

The department said 17,856 residents of long-term care facilities have been infected, along with 3,316 employees. Altogether, 21,172 people in those facilities have contracted COVID-19.

Cases have been found at 702 facilities in 53 counties.

Across the state, 6,706 health care workers have been infected.

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