Cambria, Somerset and Blair counties each had one additional COVID-19 case reported Monday by the Pennsylvania Department of Health, with 492 new cases statewide.
Monday's midday report also showed eight new deaths, bringing the state totals to 85,988 cases and 6,614 deaths attributed to COVID-19. No local counties had new deaths reported.
The health department estimates about 67,000 people, or 78% of those infected with COVID-19, have recovered.
Although lower than recent days, Monday's report represented a seven-day average of 470 cases a day, up from 407 for the previous week.
Surging cases have led Allegheny County officials to eliminate the sale of alcohol for consumption in restaurants and bars, beginning Tuesday.
During a press conference Monday at UPMC Pinnacle Community Osteopathic in Harrisburg, Gov. Tom Wolf said the state has no plans to expand the Allegheny County order.
“Right now we are in a stage that, I think, we can do things with surgical precision that we couldn't three months ago,” he said.
County totals show 78 cases and three deaths in Cambria County, 61 cases and one death in Somerset County, 81 cases and three deaths in Bedford County, 72 cases and one death in Blair County, 72 cases and no deaths in Clearfield County, 112 cases and four deaths in Fayette County, 104 cases and six deaths in Indiana County and 640 cases and 38 deaths in Westmoreland County.
There have been 17,697 cases among residents of nursing and personal care homes and 3,224 cases among employees. The health department reports 4,531 COVID-19 deaths in residents of long-term care facilities.
Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said the situation has improved in nursing and personal care homes.
“Through our testing in nursing homes, we have far less numbers of patients that are ill in nursing homes,” she said at the Harrisburg hospital. “We are having much fewer patients and much fewer patients that have gotten very ill.”
In the past week, new cases have increased by 4%, while new cases among long-term care facilities have increased by just 2%, the health department reports show.
In Cambria, Somerset, Blair and Bedford counties, there have been no increases in a week.
The health department reports one case each in a resident and an employee in Cambria County, three resident cases in Blair County, one resident case in Bedford County and no long-term care COVID-19 cases in Somerset County homes. There have been no nursing home deaths in the four counties.
In surrounding counties:
Clearfield County has reported two resident cases and one employee case.
Indiana County has reported four long-term care home deaths. There have been 16 residents and five employees who tested positive.
Fayette County has reported one death, four resident cases and four employee cases.
Westmoreland County has reported 29 deaths, 144 resident cases and 42 employee cases.
Levine and Wolf looked back on how the COVID-19 pandemic devastated nursing and personal care home residents in Pennsylvania and several other states.
Things have improved since the new case counts were soaring in late March and early April, Wolf said.
“One of the things we didn't have was the capacity to test,” he said. “We also didn't know as much about the disease as we know now.”
More information and a program to regularly test all long-term care residents and staff members for COVID-19 have improved the situation, he said.
“As a result of all those things, the case count in nursing homes, among both patients and employees is down dramatically,” he said.
Citing studies from Brown University and the University of Pennsylvania, Levine said it was clear that outbreaks in nursing homes were related to outbreaks in communities.
“The incidence, or prevalence, of COVID-19 in a nursing home is directly correlated to the prevalence of COVID-19 in the county where it is located,” Levine said.
The study indicates the virus was usually introduced, unknowingly, by employees of the home.
“There were no other visitors,” she said.