17870 DOH Corona Update

Pennsylvania Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine speaks during a press conference, announcing the eleventh presumptive positive case of 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Pennsylvania, inside PEMA headquarters on Tuesday, March 10, 2020.

Two new Cambria County COVID-19 cases among 618 across the state in Monday's Department of Health report shows the continuation of a small surge, adding 15 confirmed cases in a week.

That's 14 more Cambria cases than during the previous seven days, a new tracking tool on the health department website shows.

Introduced this week, the online early warning monitoring dashboard measures COVID-19 prevalence to track increases over a rolling seven-day period.

“This dashboard provides the entire community with early warning to changes in COVID-19 infection so that we can take action to prevent spread,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “Recent increases in COVID-19 cases in parts of the state have shown the need for Pennsylvanians to continue to take simple steps to prevent the spread of this virus.

"Wear a mask, wash your hands frequently, maintain social distancing and stay home if you are sick.”

The dashboard compares the current seven-day figure to the prior seven-day total to track data points being used to assess the spread of the virus in the state and in each county, including:

• Difference in confirmed cases.

• Incidence rate for every 100,000 population.

• Viral test positivity rate.

• Difference in the average daily number of COVID-19 hospitalizations.

• Difference in the average daily number of COVID-19 patients on ventilators.

• Percent of hospital emergency department visits for COVID-like illness.

Concerns that led Allegheny County officials to end on-premise sale of alcohol this week are illustrated by the dashboard.

It shows Allegheny County had 290 more new cases in the last week than in the previous seven days; its new-case incidence was 34.8 per 100,000 and 5.1% of tests were positive for COVID-19.

There is some good news. Allegheny County averaged only one more patient requiring a ventilator in the past week.

Cambria County had 14 more cases in the past week, which is only 10.6 per 100,000. Test positivity was 1% and there were, on average, 0.5 fewer patients on respirators.

The dashboard can be found at the health department website, health.pa.gov, by clicking on the “coronavirus” link.

It is the latest addition to the website, which provides information contained in the department's daily updates.

Around the region

Tuesday's report also showed 35 new deaths reported Tuesday, bringing the state totals to 86,606 cases and 6,649 total deaths attributed to COVID-19.

In addition to the two new Cambria County cases, Bedford had a new case and Blair had one case removed from its total Tuesday. The health department periodically has adjusted numbers when a different county of residence has been confirmed.

Indiana and Fayette counties each added four new cases and Westmoreland County added six cases.

County totals show 80 cases and three deaths in Cambria County, 61 cases and one death in Somerset County, 82 cases and three deaths in Bedford County, 71 cases and one death in Blair County, 72 cases and no deaths in Clearfield County, 116 cases and four deaths in Fayette County, 108 cases and six deaths in Indiana County and 646 cases and 38 deaths in Westmoreland County.

Tuesday's report showed an additional 38 cases in residents of nursing and personal care homes and 37 new cases in employees at the homes. There are also eight additional resident deaths related to COVID-19.

Since the state's first cases in March, COVID-19 has been related to 4,539 deaths in long-term care home residents. There have been 17,735 resident cases and 3,261 cases among employees, affecting 692 facilities in 52 counties of the state's 67 counties. Local counties include Cambria, Bedford, Blair, Clearfield, Fayette, Indiana and Westmoreland.

The health department estimates 6,569 health care workers have been infected with coronavirus. 

Fauci: 100K per day? 

Meanwhile, a resurgence in other parts of the country brought a strong warning from the nation's leading infectious disease expert, the Associated Press reports.

During a Senate hearing on reopening schools and workplaces, Dr. Anthony Fauci said coronavirus cases could grow to 100,000 a day in the U.S. if Americans don’t start following public health recommendations.

Asked to forecast the outcome of recent surges in some states, Fauci said he can’t make an accurate prediction but believes it will be “very disturbing.”

“We are now having 40-plus-thousand new cases a day," said Fauci, infectious disease chief at the National Institutes of Health.

"I would not be surprised if we go up to 100,000 a day if this does not turn around, and so I am very concerned."

Fauci said areas seeing recent outbreaks are putting the entire nation at risk, including areas that have made progress in reducing COVID-19 cases. He cited recent video footage of people socializing in crowds, often without masks, and otherwise ignoring safety guidelines.

Randy Griffith is a multimedia reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at 532-5057. Follow him on Twitter @PhotoGriffer57.