Department of Health Levine

Secretary of Health Rachel Levine speaks at a virtual COVID-19 press conference on March 29, 2020.

Cambria County had five new cases of COVID-19 reported on Friday by the Pennsylvania Department of Health, bringing its official tally to 90 confirmed or probable cases of the virus.

Also on Friday, Blair County added five new confirmed or probable cases to reach a total of 79, Indiana County had two new cases to bring its total to 114 and Somerset and Bedford counties each added one case to reach 63 and 89 cases, respectively. One case was removed from Clearfield County’s official tally, dropping it from 75 to 74.

No new deaths were attributed to COVID-19 in any of those counties. The death toll remained at three in Cambria, one in Somerset, four in Bedford, six in Indiana, one in Blair and zero in Clearfield, according to Department of Health data.

The Department of Health reported a total of 667 new COVID-19 cases and 34 new deaths attributed to the virus in Pennsylvania on Friday. That brings the state’s total toll to 88,741 cases – 86,205 of which were confirmed and 2,536 of which were probable – and 6,746 deaths.

Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine called on residents of Pennsylvania to continue taking precautions over the upcoming Independence Day weekend to mitigate the spread of the virus.

“As the entire state is now in the green phase, we must remain committed to protecting against COVID-19 by wearing a mask, practicing social distancing and avoiding large gatherings this holiday weekend,” Levine said.

Of particular concern to the Department of Health was Allegheny County, where 166 new COVID-19 cases were reported on Friday and where county health officials ordered a one-week closure starting Friday of bars, restaurants and casinos and the cancellation of all activities and events involving more than 25 people. In addition to that order, the county health director recommended “a voluntary stay-at-home protocol” for Allegheny County residents.

Also on Friday, the Department of Health published answers to a list of frequently asked questions about a new order requiring Pennsylvanians to wear masks or other facial coverings in all public spaces in order to mitigate the spread of the virus.

According to that document, the order, which took effect on Wednesday, “requires individuals to wear a face covering in both indoor public places and in the outdoors when they are not able to consistently maintain social distancing from individuals who are not members of their household, such as on a busy sidewalk, waiting in line to enter a place, or near others at any place people are congregating.”

However, people are not required to wear masks if they are performing solitary activities outdoors that are not likely to cause them to come within six feet of another person – although the Department of Health recommended carrying masks to put on if another person unexpectedly comes close.

“This mask-wearing order is essential to stopping the recent increase in COVID-19 cases we have seen in Pennsylvania,” Gov. Tom Wolf said when the order was revealed.

The order defines the mandated face covering as “a covering of the nose and mouth that is secured to the head with ties, straps, or loops over the ears or is wrapped around the lower face.” They can be factory-made, hand-sewn or improvised from bandanas, T-shirts, scarves or other household items.

The full list of FAQs and answers, including exceptions to the requirement, can be found online at www.health.pa.gov/topics/disease/coronavirus/Pages/Guidance/Universal-Masking-FAQ.aspx

Mark Pesto is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at @MarkPesto.

Recommended for you