HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania health officials reported 492 new confirmed coronavirus cases and eight deaths on Monday and 505 cases and three deaths on Sunday, slight drops that come as concerns about rising infections nationally have officials scrutinizing the numbers for trends.
The Health Department’s figures from Friday and Saturday were around 600 new confirmed cases and 22 and 24 deaths, respectively.
Pennsylvania has so far had nearly 86,000 confirmed infections and 6,614 deaths.
The number of infections is thought to be far higher than the state’s confirmed case count because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected without feeling sick.
The final two counties in the state, Philadelphia and Lebanon, are expected to be moved to the least restrictive “green” zone in Gov. Tom Wolf’s color-coded reopening system on Friday.
There has been particular focus on the disease’s spread in Allegheny County, home to the city of Pittsburgh, where officials will stop on-site consumption of alcohol in bars and restaurants as of 5 p.m. Tuesday.
The move is in response to what they have described as an alarming increase in infections, largely among younger people.
Allegheny County is home to 1.2 million people and is the state’s second most-populated county behind Philadelphia.
Philadelphia’s numbers stop falling
After weeks of declining numbers of new coronavirus cases, “daily COVID case counts in Philadelphia are no longer falling,” said Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley on Monday.
“That, combined with the rise of cases throughout the country, is troubling,” Farley continued. “To protect Philadelphia’s residents from a resurgence of the coronavirus, we will be cautious about any further re-starting of activities. Philadelphia residents should be consistent in wearing masks when around others, safely distancing from each other, and washing hands frequently.”
City officials plan to provide an update on Tuesday about when the city will move to the “green phase.”
City health officials announced on Monday that they had counted 298 new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in Philadelphia, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 25,991.
City health officials reported no new fatalities. The number of people who have died from COVID-19 or related complications remains at 1,579. Approximately 51% of the people who died were residents of long-term care facilities.
Pennsylvania government agencies are laying out guidelines that will make it easier for people to visit relatives and others inside nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
The Human Services and Health departments announced procedures over the weekend that apply to nursing homes, personal care homes, assisted living residences and private intermediate care facilities.
The homes must first have a publicly available plan, be able to do testing within a day of any resident showing symptoms, implement scheduling, be prepared to isolate residents with a COVID-19 diagnosis and meet standards for staffing, protective equipment and screening.
To reopen for visitors, facilities must have had no new outbreaks among residents or staff and no spread over a two-week period.
Nursing homes and personal care facilities have borne the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic in Pennsylvania, accounting for nearly 70% of the state’s roughly 6,600 fatalities.