An additional 933 people tested positive for the coronavirus in Pennsylvania as of midnight September 17, and an additional 10 people died, according to the latest data from the state Department of Health. The total number of positive cases statewide is nearing 150,000, and 7,913 deaths have been attributed to COVID-19.
Allegheny County reported an increase of 83 cases, Centre County reported an increase of 88 cases, Philadelphia County reported an increase of 83 cases, and York County reported an increase of 24 cases in the same time period, according to the Department of Health data.
In the week-long period between September 10 and September 16, 176,997 tests were administered with 5,700 positive cases and 24,529 test results were reported to the department as of 10 p.m. September 16. A total of 1,721,275 negative test results were reported to date.
Here’s what you need to know:
Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine Highlighted Colleges & Large Groups as Areas Where COVID-19 Can Be Spread
As students returned to campus at many colleges and universities across Pennsylvania, Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine emphasized the importance of social distancing and wearing masks. She said in a statement provided to Heavy the coronavirus can spread more easily in large groups, and that college and university campuses can be places of increased contagion.
“We know that congregation, especially in college and university settings, yields increased case counts. The mitigation efforts in place now are essential to flattening the curve and saving lives,” she said. “Wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, and following the requirements set forth in the orders for bars and restaurants, gatherings, and telework will help keep our case counts low. Together, as Pennsylvanians, all of our efforts are designed to support our communities to ensure that cases of COVID-19 remain low.”
She reported a substantial number of cases in young adults ages 19 to 24, with more cases in that age bracket compared to those ages 50 to 64 and 65 and older. Twelve percent of positive tests are within the 19 to 24 age group, 36% are 25 to 49, and 22% are in both the 50 to 64 age group and the 65 and older age group. About 7% are ages 0 to 18.
The Department of Health broke down the increase of cases among 19 to 24 year olds by region:
North Central: About 7% of cases in April to 71% of cases so far in September;
Southeast: Nearly 5% of cases in April to nearly 32% of cases so far in September;
Northeast: 6% of cases in April to nearly 39% of cases so far in September;
Southwest: About 5% of cases in April to nearly 29% of cases so far in September;
Northwest: Nearly 7% of cases in April to nearly 20% of cases so far in September; and
South Central: About 7% of cases in April to nearly 17% of cases so far in September.
Governor Tom Wolf Signed an Order Allowing Restaurants to Increase Indoor Dining Capacity From 25% to 50%
Gov. Tom Wolf signed an order September 17 allowing restaurants to increase their indoor dining capacity from 25% to 50% beginning September 21. Restaurants were initially permitted 50% indoor dining capacity as regions entered the green phase of the state’s COVID-19 mitigation efforts. As Pennsylvania saw a surge in cases, Wolf announced that restaurants must cut indoor capacity to 25%. As a part of the new order, alcohol sales must also end at 11 p.m. beginning September 21.
“As we continue to take critical steps to continue to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, we also recognize that this pandemic has taken a significant toll on the food services industry, so we must balance public health and economic recovery,” Wolf said in a statement provided to Heavy. “These orders give restaurants the ability to increase indoor occupancy safely while giving customers confidence when deciding to patronize a restaurant.”
To operate at 50% capacity, restaurant owners must complete a self-certification process online by October 5 as a part of the Open & Certified Pennsylvania program. Restaurant owners who complete the self-certification process will appear in an online database and receive documents notifying customers of their certification status.