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PA COVID numbers highest since pandemic onset

Pennsylvania’s Department of Health confirmed an additional 2,795 cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday, noting that daily increases are now the highest they have ever been since the start of the pandemic.

The Nov. 4 report elevated the commonwealth’s total coronavirus count to 217,666 cases. An additional 35 deaths were also reported, bringing the statewide total to 8,890 fatalities linked to the virus.

On Tuesday, the DOH reported Pennsylvania’s largest daily count yet with 2,875 positive cases, raising concerns among Governor Tom Wolf’s administration, the DOH and health professionals.

“#COVID19 case counts have reached an all-time high in Pennsylvania,” Wolf said in a Wednesday tweet. “Please protect yourself and your loved ones from this virus. The best thing we can do right now is keep our distance, wear masks in public, avoid crowds, and practice good health habits.”

According to the DOH, 217,017 tests were performed in the Keystone State from Oct. 28 to Nov. 3, with 16,425 positive cases.

As of 10 p.m. on Nov. 2, 49,087 test results were reported to the department, “a record high number of (polymerase chain reaction) test results” which show if an individual has an active infection.

Positive viral antigen tests, another diagnostic test, have reached a total of 4,130 individuals that are considered probable cases, along with 646 individuals who have a positive serology test and either COVID-19 symptoms or high-risk exposure.

On Tuesday, Wolf Administration began distribution of the fourth allotment of antigen test kits provided by the federal government to Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA)-certified institutions in Elk, Lawrence, Mifflin and Philadelphia counties.

Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine noted that the kits are “timely, quick and easy-to-use tools for communities to receive rapid COVID-19 testing.”

“These test kits, provided by the federal government and being distributed to areas in need by the Wolf Administration, will further help communities struggling with the spread of COVID-19,” Levine said. “Antigen tests look for pieces of proteins that make up the SARS-CoV-2 virus and are less sensitive than PCR tests for detecting COVID-19 infections.”

The bulk of COVID-19 diagnoses currently encompass citizens aged 25 an older. Nearly 36% of those that have tested positive to date fall into the 25 to 49-year-old range, while 21% are aged 50 to 64, and nearly 21% are aged 65 and older.

However, the DOH also reported that there have been “significant increases in the COVID-19 cases” among younger age ranges, especially among 19 to 24-year-olds. As of the end of October, this age bracket has increased across the state, ranging from 12% of total counts in the southwest and south-central regions to 28% of cases in the north-central region.

On Wednesday, the DOH announced that Levine would hold a virtual meeting on Thursday to discuss the latest news on the COVID-19 vaccine, and Pennsylvania’s plan to distribute it once it is available.

Wolf, Levine and the DOH have continued to promote mitigation efforts – including hand washing, mask-wearing, social distancing and more – to help curb the spread of coronavirus in the commonwealth as case counts increase, especially in light of the upcoming holiday season.

“We are asking people to stay within their households and to contact their friends and their families in a more virtual way,” Levine said on Oct. 29. “And that’s a tremendous sacrifice that we’re asking people to make, but it is absolutely necessary at this challenging time.”

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