Allegheny Co. health officials concerned about possible rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations, deaths over next few weeks

Recent spike in COVID-19 cases in Allegheny County tied to younger people

ALLEGHENY COUNTY, Pa. — Hours after Allegheny County set a new daily record for COVID-19 new cases in one day, with 109 cases reported, health officials are now shifting their concern to a week or two from now -- when leaders claim it’s possible that hospitalizations and deaths could rise significantly.

“I am very concerned. I am concerned because the rate of cases is rising rapidly,” said Allegheny County Health Department Director Dr. Debra Bogen in a press conference on Sunday.

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Bogen said the community spread of coronavirus is real, and the consequences could be extremely serious.

Since April 1, the number of COVID-19 cases has ebbed and flowed, but it remained relatively flat until about 10 days ago -- when the number of daily new cases in the county started to spike, more than 75 percent of which are among younger adults.

Health officials reported 83 new COVID-19 cases to start the week. There were a record 96 cases reported Sunday, on top of 90 new cases reported Saturday. To put Allegheny County’s spike in coronavirus cases into perspective, from June 1 through June 25, the county health department reported 410 new cases. Since Friday, that number jumped to 439 new cases, which is more than half of the June total in a five-day period.

As of Tuesday, Allegheny County made up 17 percent of total new daily COVID-19 cases for the state.

Officials are tying the increase to younger people traveling to hotspots such as Florida, the Carolinas and Texas. Officials believe younger people are ignoring social distance practices and mask wearing while out in public and going to bars.

Now, the concern turns to a week or two from now.

“The problem with this disease at times is it’s a lagging indicator, so things that happened two weeks ago show up two weeks later,” said Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald on Sunday. “I worry we will see a surge in hospitalizations in a few weeks when the parents and grandparents of the current cases become infected.”

The health department said the younger population that is testing positive has relatively mild symptoms, so they could be interacting with family and friends without knowing they are putting others at risk.

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