COVID-19

Cambria and Blair counties both added more than 80 COVID-19 cases Monday, while Indiana County recorded its 25th death.

The totals were among 4,476 new cases added statewide – among them, a growing number of them in more rural areas, Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said.

Cambria County, which has seen a spike in deaths this month, added 81 confirmed cases Monday and now has 2,261 since the onset of the outbreak.

Of that total, 1,430 of them have been reported over the past month.

Indiana County added 53 cases to reach 1,828 cases, while Blair added 83 cases and now has 2,598, state figures show.

Somerset County added 34 cases and is now at 933 total, while Bedford added 24 cases to bring its total to 955.

Like Cambria, most of Somerset and Bedford cases have been reported over the past month, with Somerset's 625 in the past 30 days, a more than 200% increase from its Oct. 16 total.

In a press conference with media Monday, Levine noted that just five of Pennsylvania's 67 counties now have positive case rates of 5% or lower.

While nursing homes and hospitals are generating headlines, it is broader community-driven spreads that are increasing cases in towns across the state, she said.

Levine told reporters that the state is not currently considering a step back to the color-coded green, yellow and red model – nor stricter guidelines against businesses. But she urged business owners, restaurants and others to take the steps needed to slow the spread of the virus – by enforcing mask requirements, 50% occupancy restrictions and other steps – so they can keep the potential for further restrictions at bay.

She also urged companies to allow employees to return to remote working, if possible, and return to the use of virtual meetings, rather than in-person gatherings.

"If we all take those steps," she said, referring to increased social distancing, mask wearing and reduced gatherings, "we can stop the spread."

David Hurst is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5053. Follow him on Twitter @TDDavidHurst and Instagram @TDDavidHurst.

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