It took seven months for Cambria County to reach 1,000 COVID-19 cases. That was six weeks ago.
Cambria’s 192 new cases Tuesday pushed its total to more than 6,000 confirmed cases since the first positive test on March 23.
The county's accelerating case count had reached 5,000 just four days earlier.
There have been 6,125 total cases and 109 deaths in the county.
Art Martynuska, Cambria's emergency management agency director, said county leaders are concerned about the surge.
“We have to work together to contain this disease and protect the most vulnerable,” Martynuska said in a press release. “If you are a healthy person with minimal risk, you could be asymptomatic and infect a loved one, friend or neighbor.
"It is important to wear masks, wash your hands and practice social distancing to minimize the risk of contamination to others.”
Cambria, Blair, Clearfield and Westmoreland counties all had triple-digit increases in COVID-19 cases Tuesday, among 10,170 additional positive cases across Pennsylvania, the Department of Health reported.
Cambria added six virus-related deaths Tuesday, with 169 reported statewide.
Tuesday’s update brings the state totals to 436,614 cases and 11,542 deaths attributed to COVID-19.
Cambria continues to take measures to protect employees, including mass decontamination and use of personal protective equipment. All county buildings will be outfitted with body temperature scanners.
Rising across region
Westmoreland County reported 253 new cases and eight deaths to reach 11,667 cases and 250 deaths.
Blair County reported 164 new cases and four deaths to reach 5,287 cases and 92 deaths.
Clearfield County added 119 cases to reach 2,341 new cases and 22 deaths.
Somerset County added 91 cases to reach 2,583 cases and 24 deaths.
Centre County added 87 cases and two deaths to reach 6,976 cases and 81 deaths.
Bedford County added 69 cases and two deaths to reach 1,959 cases and 54 deaths.
Indiana County added 53 cases and one death to reach 3,044 cases and 58 deaths.
Hospitalizations continue to rise as well. On Tuesday, there were 5,561 COVID-19 patients hospitalized across the state, including 1,160 in intensive care units and 659 on ventilators or breathing machines, the health department reported.
Combining Cambria, Blair, Bedford and Somerset counties, there were 289 COVID-19 patients in area hospitals, with 44 in ICUs and 42 on ventilators.
UPMC adds beds, nurses
Despite the continuing tsunami, UPMC leaders say the region is not overwhelmed and its hospitals are able to care for COVID-19 patients in addition to the non-COVID patients, while providing support for other hospitals.
Leslie Davis, executive vice president and chief operating officer for UPMC Health Services Division, said the system has provided additional support for its hospitals outside the Pittsburgh area, including UPMC Altoona and UPMC Somerset.
“With spike up in COVID-19 infections in this part of the region, we have effectively worked with our sister hospitals to create more staff more equipment and, of course, more support to the terrific caregivers who are taking care of that community,” Davis said.
The system added about 60 nurses in Altoona and opened additional beds at Somerset to keep COVID-19 patients close to home, she said.
System-wide UPMC has relied on voluntary overtime, expanding part-time positions to full-time jobs and reassigning nurses from other areas to provide staffing in the COVID-19 units, she said.
“There have been a lot of people who raised their hands,” she said.
UPMC’s robust system is able to help other hospitals, spokeswoman Sarah Deist said in an email from UPMC Somerset.
“Our emergency departments are open and we are prepared to care for all patients,” Deist said. “With several surrounding hospitals in our region diverting patients from their emergency departments over the last few weeks, UPMC Somerset, UPMC Altoona and UPMC Bedford emergency departments have remained open for service and able to care for all patients.”
In response to a request information on capacity at Conemaugh Health System, a spokesman said the hospital is not responding to individual media requests, but will provide a weekly update on Thursday or Friday.