COVID-19 cases tied to bars, restaurants down 50% in Allegheny Co., health officials say

As school districts across the country and Pennsylvania are getting ready to reopen, local health officials were cautiously optimistic regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

During their weekly press conference Wednesday, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald encouraged districts to require students to wear face masks and for social distancing to be maintained.

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Fitzgerald said everyone must follow the guidelines to keep cases down and keep school districts and universities open.

Health director Dr. Debra Bogen also announced the COVID Field Response Team has visited more than 700 establishments since its inception over a week ago, with 87% of them following all the rules.

Bogen said that seems to be reflected in the data, with fewer people testing positive who have told contact tracers they visited bars and restaurants.

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“The number of new cases reporting going to or working at bars and restaurants has dropped by half,” Bogen said. “Parties have dropped a little bit and it’s now about even with bars and restaurants. We need all to be safe when celebrating with friends and family.”

Over the last two weeks there has been a jump in cases among nursing home residents and staff. When asked where the infections came from, Bogen said it could have started with an asymptomatic staff member, but it’s unclear at this point.

The Allegheny County Health Department also noted a drop in cases from out-of-state travel -- 178 cases were reported from July 5 through July 11, but only 37 were reported from July 19 though July 25.