Coronavirus

Cambria County added 206 cases of COVID-19 over the weekend and recorded eight deaths over a two-day span, state officials said.

The additions were reported as Pennsylvania has been setting new records almost daily on new coronavirus cases with rising death totals.

Westmoreland and Indiana counties also recorded deaths – two and one, respectively – while Cambria County's total grew to 23, up by 10 from one week earlier by the state's count.

Cambria County Coroner Jeff Lees said his office had handled four deaths since Friday – and he said likely most of them have not yet been added to the Department of Health's total for the county.

The four cases handled by the coroner:

• A 63-year-old woman who died Friday due to respiratory failure while positive with COVID-19 at Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center. The woman was a resident at The Atrium and had a history of respiratory problems, Lees said.

• An 86-year-old man who died at Memorial Medical Center on Saturday who was also an Atrium Manor resident, Lees said. The Johnstown man had a heart disease and diabetes history, according to Lees' office.

• An 80-year-old Adams Township man also died while being treated for the virus at Memorial Medical Center on Saturday.

• An 87-year-old woman who was a resident at Laurelwood Care Center. Lees said the Upper Yoder woman, who had a cardiac history, died Sunday at Memorial Medical Center.

According to information provided by Lees' office, the two deaths involving Atrium residents over the weekend represent the fourth and fifth fatal COVID-19 cases from the Johnstown care home – one of a growing number of centers across the region dealing with a rise in cases.

Efforts to reach administrators at the not-for-profit personal care home Sunday were unsuccessful. An employee who answered the phone at The Atrium said the facility's directors were out of the office.

According to information provided by Lees' office since Nov. 1, the coroner's staff has handled at least 13 COVID-19 cases countywide during November.

Most of them have involved residents from the Johnstown area.

It's not known how many are included in the state's count for Cambria County, which now stands at 23.

State health officials and county coroners use a different methodology to add up Cambria County death cases. The state receives data from hospitals and care centers and includes anyone with a Cambria County address regardless of what city or hospital where they were being treated. The Cambria County Coroners Office's cases involve anyone who died in Cambria County regardless of whether their home is within the county or elsewhere.

For example, his office handled a Seward resident's death last weekend because the man passed away at Memorial – a death state officials would log as a Westmoreland County death. 

Other county reports

Blair County, which added seven deaths over the past week, added 225 cases combined Saturday and Sunday, continuing its trend of rapid growth.

A day after UPMC officials in Pittsburgh reported that Altoona and Western Maryland cases represented 30% of its system-wide hospitalizations, state officials announced steps to open a testing clinic at the Blair County Convention Center.

“Since the beginning of September, we have seen an increase of 1,825 cases in Blair County, which gives us significant cause for concern,” Secretary Rachel Levine said in a release to media, urging people across the state to take more steps to isolate themselves.

“This testing site will be open to anyone who feels they need a test."

Somerset County added 58 COVID-19 positives over the past two days and 326 over the past week, bringing its total to 899 cases.

Two residents died due to COVID-19 complications since Nov. 8, bringing the total to 5.

Indiana County saw 93 cases and one death Saturday and Sunday and now has 1,775 cases and 24 deaths.

Bedford County added 123 cases over the past two days and 283 in the past week. The county also has added two deaths since Nov 8.

Westmoreland County now has 6,099 cases – up more than 320 from Friday and more than 1,000 cases from last week.

Positivity rates

While testing has continued to rise across the region in November, the state's latest figures show positive cases are rising at a higher rate.

Bedford County's seven-day positivity rate of 19.7% ranks second in the state behind only Juniata County, state figures show.

That means for the most recent week that state officials tracked, one in five people tested for the virus in Bedford County tested positive.

Cambria County's rate grew to 8.5% from 5.5% a week earlier, while Blair jumped from 8% to 9.6% and Somerset County climbed to 11.6%.

The state has cautioned anything above 5% is cause for concern. 

Hospitalizations

Hospitalizations statewide have also continued their sharp climb over the past week.

Figures provided Sunday showed 2,440 people were hospitalized for COVID-19.

By comparison, 1,735 people were hospitalized statewide a week earlier – and fewer than 1,000 at the same point a month ago.

That has brought the 14-day rolling average to 1,863, compared to 680 on Oct. 15, Department of Health data show.

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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