No Alarming Virus Spike from Returning College Students

The Director of the Allegheny County Health Department says she's happy with current case counts.


In the early days of college students returning to campus, reports surfaced of students ignoring social distancing rules by attending parties. That sparked fears of a local spike in cases of COVID-19, but so far, the increases in case counts have been “very modest.”

“In general, schools have been doing a great job keeping people safe,” Allegheny County Health Director Dr. Debra Bogen said during a Wednesday news conference. “These numbers really reflect all the hard work of our schools and universities in planning for a safe return to learning. I’m very pleased with those numbers.”

Bogen says about 20% of the positive cases are traced to college students and about 2% are connected to students K-12.

Allegheny County’s positivity rate is up slightly, in the range of 7% to 9%, over the past week. Dr. Bogen says there are no plans to ease the county’s restriction of no more than 100 people at outside gatherings. Currently, the state limit is 250, but counties are allowed to impose stronger mitigation measures for public health reasons.

“We’ve twice seen these strategies combat surges and keep case levels at manageable levels,” Bogen said in referencing spikes in July and August.

Bogen also offered some tips for parents planning Halloween for their children. She suggests parents make protective face masks part of a child’s costumes and that people go trick-or-treating in small groups.

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: 25 (down from 31)
  • Parties: 24 (up from 13)
  • Played sports: 13 (up from 10)
  • Weddings/funerals: 10 (down from 15)
  • Gym/fitness center: 8 (down from 12)
  • Retail store employees: 4 (unchanged)
  • Religious services: 3 (up from 2)
  • Salon/barber employees: 1 (unchanged)
  • Grocery employees: 0 (down from 4)
Categories: The 412