Pennsylvania reports 860 new virus cases, 14 deaths
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania health officials on Thursday reported 860 additional cases of the coronavirus, and 14 new deaths.
Allegheny County reported an increase of 132 cases and Philadelphia reported 127 new cases.
More than 111,000 people in Pennsylvania have tested positive for the virus since the beginning of the pandemic, and 7,176 deaths have been attributed to COVID-19, most of them in nursing homes.
Daily case counts have risen nearly 70% since the beginning of July, driven primarily by increased spread in counties in the southern half of the state. The percentage of virus tests coming back positive has risen from a low of 3.3% in mid-June to over 6% now, according to the COVID Tracking Project.
The increasing infection rate prompted Gov. Tom Wolf to recently impose a new round of statewide pandemic restrictions on bars, restaurants and larger indoor gatherings.
Deaths have been trending downward.
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.
For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up in a couple of weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems are at higher risk of more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.
In other coronavirus-related developments in Pennsylvania on Thursday:
FALL SCHOOL SPORTS
A Republican state senator is asking the Wolf administration to issue guidelines that will allow spectators, especially parents, to attend fall school sporting events.
“It is my belief that the Commonwealth can safely permit spectators, parents and family members to attend fall athletic events if proper mitigation measures are in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Sen. Scott Martin, R-Lancaster, wrote in a letter to Wolf on Thursday.
If people can shop in stores, go to indoor sports venues and attend outdoor car shows under state Department of Health guidance, then the department can develop similar guidelines to give schools the ability to allow spectators to safely watch athletic events, Martin wrote.
The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association on Wednesday released more guidance for fall school sports. It noted the state, at this time, is not allowing spectators at scholastic sporting events. If that changes, mitigation measures would likely include mask-wearing and sitting 6 feet apart, the PIAA said.
COLLEGES GOING REMOTE
Another Pennsylvania college has changed its mind about bringing students back to campus.
Muhlenberg College in Allentown had been planning a full return to campus for the fall semester, but said Thursday that “significant surges” of the virus nationwide and a rise in infection rates among college-age people forced a change in plans.
Now, only first-year students will be invited to live on campus, along with a limited number of upperclass students. All upperclass students — whether they’re living on or off campus — will take courses remotely, and only a limited amount of in-person instruction will be offered to first-year students.
“The surge in cases in certain regions of our country has had an impact on our ability to open safely with a full population of students,” President Kathleen Harring said in a message to the campus community.
Lafayette College, Dickinson College and several state-owned universities have also made the decision to go remote this fall.