Good News and a Warning About Pandemic in Allegheny County

The county health department reports a drop in the test positivity rate and quicker test results but also urges caution as some schools prepare to reopen.
Testing

PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK

Allegheny County Health Department Director Dr. Debra Bogen says the county has hit a “milestone” now that the weekly average of cases of COVID-19 has fallen below 100 cases per day. Equally encouraging is the county’s test positivity rate of 3.9% – the lowest it has been since the third week in June.

County Executive Rich Fitzgerald credits those who wear masks and follow social distancing and other guidelines for what he says is “very good progress.”

But Bogen also says not everyone is adhering to the rules.

“We really, really need you to get on board. The virus is not a hoax. It is not a rumor,” she said at a news conference Wednesday. “The reason I am stressing this today is because we are at a critical point in the pandemic.”

Bogen says the recent progress could be undone by the return to in-school classes in some districts and the resumption of athletics programs. She agrees with Gov. Tom Wolf’s recommendation that youth and high school sports be delayed at least until the first of the year.

“It’s really about trying to keep the virus contained,” Bogen said. “Every time you go play another team, you are bringing it to another group, and it keeps spreading and spreading.”

Also on the positive side, the county says the median turnaround time for test results has improved to about two days, versus the week or more reported by many people in late July.

Bogen says the number of cases traced to bars and restaurants or outdoor parties has decreased while there’s been an increase in cases traced to people playing sports.

Taking a closer look at the activities traced back to positive cases of COVID-19 and comparing those numbers to a week ago:

  • Bar/Restaurant patron/employee: 49 (down from 60)
  • Parties: 45 (down from 61)
  • Gym/fitness center: 19 (up from 14)
  • Weddings/funerals: 15 (down from 22)
  • Salon/barber employees: 12 (up from 6)
  • Religious services: 11 (unchanged)
  • Retail store employees: 11 (down from 28)
  • Played sports: 9 (up from 1)
  • Grocery employees: 7 (unchanged)

There was an increase in the number of cases traced to those visiting or returning from other states:

  • South Carolina: 19 (up from 1)
  • Ohio: 18 (up from 9)
  • North Carolina: 10 (up from 1)
  • Georgia: 9 (up from 1)
Categories: The 412