PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE — A month after Christmas, Pennsylvania appears to have avoided a post-holiday surge in COVID-19 as new cases stayed below the December peak that followed Thanksgiving and the positivity rate for tests continues to decline. Last week, the seven-day case increase totaled 31,140, putting it significantly below the nearly 60,400 weekly total from early December, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
Last week, positive results came back from only 10.5% of COVID-19 tests, bring the positivity rate down from 12.7% the week prior. Last month, percent positivity was at 16.2% during the week of Dec. 4. Still, nearly every county in the state continues to report a “substantial” level of transmission, Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration said, as Pennsylvania added 7,910 new cases of COVID-19 over the past two days and saw an increase of 138 deaths.
Dr. Lee Harrison, a Pitt epidemiologist and chairman of the Allegheny County Board of Health, said that the drop in the positivity rate was encouraging, but warned that the state is not done with the winter surge. “We’re in the middle still of a raging pandemic,” Dr. Harrison said as the commonwealth reports 807,867 total cases of the virus and 20,664 deaths statewide. He said that he hopes that mitigation efforts like mask-wearing and social distancing will continue to prevent another surge before the vaccine reaches the wider population.
“I’m hearing from a lot of people that one of the reasons why they’re really hunkering down now is that it would be a shame to get a severe COVID case while waiting to get the vaccine,” he said. “COVID can be a really wicked disease, and this is not the time to get COVID. So I would encourage people to really continue to hunker down, stay safe and, whenever their turn comes up to get vaccinated, get vaccinated.”
Meanwhile, the state’s vaccination campaign continues its sluggish pace more than a month after the vaccine rollout began
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