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Spread of virus near Pittsburgh causes concern for officials

By Staff | Jun 30, 2020

People gather at the Porch in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh on Sunday, June 28, 2020. In response to the recent spike in COVID-19 cases in Allegheny County, health officials are ordering all bars and restaurants in the county to stop the sale of alcohol for on-site consumption beginning on Tuesday afternoon. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania reported 492 new confirmed COVID-19 cases and eight deaths on Monday and 505 cases and three deaths on Sunday, reflecting smaller daily tallies than the two previous days as concerns about rising infections nationally has officials scrutinizing the numbers to look for trends.

The Health Department’s figures from Friday and Saturday were around 600 new confirmed cases and 22 and 24 deaths, respectively.

Pennsylvania has so far had nearly 86,000 confirmed infections and 6,614 deaths.

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.

The final two counties in the state, Philadelphia and Lebanon, will be moved to the least restrictive “green” zone in Gov. Tom Wolf’s color-coded reopening system on Friday.

There has been particular focus on the disease’s spread in Allegheny County, home to the city of Pittsburgh, where officials will be stopping on-site consumption of alcohol in bars and restaurants as of 5 p.m. Tuesday.

The move is in response to what they have described as an alarming increase in infections, largely among younger people.

Allegheny County is home to 1.2 million people and is the state’s second most-populated county behind Philadelphia.

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NURSING HOMES

Pennsylvania government agencies are laying out guidelines that will make it easier for people to visit relatives and others inside nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

The Human Services and Health departments announced procedures over the weekend that apply to nursing homes, personal care homes, assisted living residences and private intermediate care facilities.

The homes must first have a publicly available plan, be able to do testing within a day of any resident showing symptoms, implement scheduling, be prepared to isolate residents with a COVID-19 diagnosis and meet standards for staffing, protective equipment and screening.

To reopen for visitors, facilities must have had no new outbreaks among residents or staff and no spread over a two-week period.

Nursing homes and personal care facilities have borne the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic in Pennsylvania, accounting for nearly 70% of the state’s roughly 6,600 fatalities.

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