December 05, 2020
Pennsylvania health officials reported 12,884 new COVID-19 cases, making it the third day in a row the state met a new highest single-day case count record.
The state now has more than 411,000 positive cases and has had more than 11,000 deaths, according to the Department of Health. Approximately 15,455 of those cases were health care workers.
Secretary of Health Rachel Levine warned that hospital beds could fill up by Christmas and issued a state order that may postpone elective surgeries to make room.
"There are not an unlimited number of hospital beds," Levine said. "But more importantly, there are not an unlimited number of staff — doctors, nurses, support staff, EMTs."
In the last 48 hours, there has been more than a 50% increase in COVID-19 admissions to hospitals in the region, and less than 10% of the region's hospital beds are anticipated to be available in the next three days.
The state also mandated stricter mask-wearing guidelines and travel restrictions which require anyone entering the state to provide a negative COVID-19 test or quarantine for 14 days.
"With freedom comes responsibility," Levine said. "We all have a responsibility to work toward a common good and, right now, that means following these orders and guidance in terms of stopping the spread of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania."
Currently, there are 5,230 people hospitalized for COVID-19 across the state, and last week's percent positivity was 14.4%.
"Mask-wearing is required in all businesses and whenever leaving home," according to the Department of Health. "Consistent mask-wearing is critical to preventing the spread of COVID-19."
Philadelphia released sweeping new restrictions across the city that included a ban on indoor-dining and museum closures through the rest of the year. Bars across the state were prohibited from selling alcohol on Thanksgiving Eve — the busiest night of the year for many establishments in the state.
Many of these restaurants and bars were forced to close as a result. A group called Philadelphia Restaurant Owners Against Lockdown sued Mayor Kenney for banning indoor dining and imposing another city-wide lock down.
This surge in cases started before the Thanksgiving holiday and health officials urged residents to stay home. Despite the warnings, data shows many still traveled this holiday.
The CDC released new recommendations this week that reduce the quarantine period, if exposed to COVID-19, to 7 to 10 days instead of 14.
"We must stop the spread of this virus and quarantining once you have been exposed is essential," Levine said. "The incubation period for COVID-19 remains at 14 days and it is still most protective to quarantine for the full two weeks. However, the CDC has affirmed that quarantine can end after 10 days if the person doesn't develop symptoms, or after seven days if the person tests negative and has no symptoms."
Health officials also said there is an increase in cases among 19 - 24 year olds. More than 33% of area hospitals said they expect staffing shortages within the next week.