With 70 new COVID-19 cases, Allegheny County says mitigation efforts seem to be working

(Image via iStock)

(Image via iStock)

The Allegheny County Department of Health [ACHD] reported 70 additional COVID-19 infections Wednesday, bringing the total case count since March 14 to 8,512 cases. 

The new cases come from 1,216 tests conducted from July 15 through Aug. 4. Patient ages ranged from 11 months to 94 years, with a median age of 42.

Roughly two-thirds of the new cases were in people younger than 50. 

County health officials also reported five new fatalities and nine additional hospitalizations. The newly reported fatalities occurred between July 25 and Aug. 1 and were among people in their 80s and 90s.

To date, there have been 248 deaths and 701 past and present hospitalizations in the county.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health [DOH] reported 705 new infections and 12 fatalities Wednesday, bringing the statewide case count to 115,714 and 7,244 deaths.

Each region of the state has seen a significant increase in cases among younger Pennsylvanians, specifically 19 to 24 year olds. Southwestern Pennsylvania, which includes Pittsburgh, however, has seen one of the greatest spikes in this age group. In April, roughly 5% of cases in the region were among 19 to 24 year olds. At the end of July, the age group represented nearly 18% of COVID infections. 

Still, personal care and nursing homes continue to bear the brunt of the deaths, with residents representing 68.2% of all COVID-related fatalities in the state. 

Roughly 8,460, or 7.3% of all infections, are among healthcare workers.

County-specific information and a statewide map are available on the COVID-19 Data Dashboard.

Top COVID-19 news for the week of Aug. 3:

      • ACHD Director Dr. Debra Bogen said Wednesday during the county’s weekly briefing that mitigation efforts to control viral spread appear to be working, with case counts four of the past five days below 100. County staff that had been pulled in to help with contact tracing are back doing their regular jobs. Bogen thanked the DOH and the National Guard for pitching in with the effort. 
      • Over the past two weeks, the county’s newly formed COVID Field Response Team inspected more than 742 bars and food establishments across the county to check compliance with virus mitigation efforts that include facemasks and physical distancing. Bogen said 87% of these establishments are complying. For establishments that were not, staff not wearing face masks was the most common violation.
      • Bogen urged the public to get flu shots, which should be available in about a month. “The challenge is that many of the symptoms of COVID-19 look very similar to that of influenza and it would be very helpful if our entire county would go and get vaccinated this year,” Bogen said.
      • The county has seen a racial disparity in hospitalizations, Bogen said. Race data is not currently available, but the county is working to release it in the future.
      • The Allegheny County Elections Division is launching Allegheny Votes, a new e-newsletter publishing for the first time Thursday to share information with voters on what the county is doing to prepare for the upcoming presidential election. “Tomorrow marks 90 days until the November 3 election,” Dave Voye, manager of the the county’s Elections Division, said in a press release. “We hope that the Allegheny Votes newsletter will be an important tool for voters as we near Election Day.” Click here to subscribe by entering your email address and ZIP code.
      • Pennsylvania Department of Education Deputy [PDE] Secretary Pedro Rivera is leaving his post to become the president of Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology in Lancaster on Oct. 1. On Tuesday, Gov. Tom Wolf announced his intention to nominate PDE Deputy Secretary of Postsecondary and Higher Education Noe Ortega to replace him. The announcement comes as Pennsylvania’s school districts are navigating whether and when the state’s school children should return to the classroom. 
      • Of the 943 cases reported in Allegheny County last week, 40 resulted in hospitalizations, 72.5% of whom were patients 65 years and older, according to ACHD data. Of the 40 hospitalizations, only one was a patient age 19-24, the age group that fueled the county’s July surge.
      • As of July 19, roughly 1.9 million out-of-work Pennsylvanians have received $32 billion in unemployment benefits, according to Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry Secretary Jerry Oleksiak, who announced the totals Monday.
      • Postsecondary and adult education providers can apply for grants to assist in implementing health safety plans to resume in-person learning in the fall. Wolf announced Monday that he had dedicated about $28 million in federal relief funding to be used for, among other things, cleaning products; technology to move classrooms online; barriers or apps to contract trace among students.
      • DOH announced nine new drive-thru testing sites Monday at Walmart Supercenters across the state, including locations in the southwest region. The newly added sites are expected to launch Aug. 5 and test up to 50 people per day who register in advance. “As the pandemic continues, it is imperative that we shift testing sites to communities with increasing demand. If the need for testing in additional communities arises, we will re-evaluate our site locations,” Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said in a news release.
      • Pennsylvania State Police [PSP] Liquor Control Enforcement Officers conducted 421 license compliance checks over the weekend and issued 15 warnings to businesses in the Pittsburgh area  to ensure businesses abide by social distancing, masking and other COVID-related health safety requirements. Statewide, officers visited more than 1,262 establishments and issued 52 warnings, according to a Monday State Police press release. Penalties range from an administrative citation up to an establishment having its liquor license revoked.
      • The governor's office noted in a press release Friday that over the seven days ended Thursday, 6.4 percent of COVID-19 tests in Allegheny County came up positive, placing the county among 12 counties that health officials deem to have concerning levels of infection.
      • The state Department of Health announced Friday that it has partnered with staffing agency Insight Global to hire and train 1,000 COVID-19 contact tracers through a $23 million federal contract. The state will partner with Insight Global to recruit contact tracers who have lost jobs amid the pandemic and who represent the demographics of the communities they serve. The state currently employs 654 contact tracers.
      • The state will provide voters with postage-prepaid mail-in and absentee ballots for the 2020 election. Residents can apply for a mail-in or absentee ballot online, through a form in the mail, or at their county election office. 

Explore graphics tracking the spread of COVID-19 in Allegheny County and Pennsylvania at large:

This post is being updated on an ongoing basis to reflect the latest information. Outdated information is being removed for ease of use.

This article was reported by Nicole C. Brambila, Oliver Morrison, Rich Lord, Matt Petras, Juliette Rihl, Charlie Wolfson, Mark Kramer, Jon Moss, Emma Folts and Veonna King.

PublicSource has a special page dedicated to our reporting on COVID-19 for the Pittsburgh region. See it here and sign up for our newsletter to stay informed. We hope you are following the news and, if your situation allows, social distancing guidelines.  Have a tip or an idea? Please email mila@publicsource.org.

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