Fall resurgence: Pa. seeing increase in COVID-19 cases; 250,000 antigen test kits being distributed

Pennsylvania entering "fall resurgence" of COVID-19

PITTSBURGH — It’s not even been one full month into the fall season, and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration already sees a surge in COVID-19 cases.

WHEN DID THE JUMP IN CASES START?

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center began seeing the jump at the beginning of October.

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“Activity has certainly rebounded. So, we are now in another surge of activity of COVID-19,” said Graham Snyder, medical director of infection prevention at UPMC. “The surge is almost certainly due to our communities not being 100% on distancing, staying away from community gatherings.”

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While COVID-19 cases increase, flu cases are low.

“Continuing to do masking and distancing will also help prevent the flu season from being worse than it could be because it will prevent transmission as well,” Snyder said.

RECENT CASE NUMBERS IN LOCAL COUNTIES

Allegheny County is seeing a slight rise in cases, reporting 82 new cases Monday and 74 on Tuesday. On Wednesday, 97 new cases were reported.

The increase in COVID-19 cases is being felt in other parts of Pennsylvania as well.

Westmoreland County has seen nearly 500 new cases over the last week. The county reported 89 new cases Tuesday and 90 on Monday, making Monday’s case report the third highest in the state.

Statewide, Pennsylvania has had nine consecutive days of more than 1,000 new cases being reported, Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said Wednesday.

Pennsylvania’s newly reported cases on Wednesday totaled 1,276. There were 27 new deaths.

Less than a week ago, Wolf said they are closely watching the uptick in cases.

“We look at that every day, 24 hours a day and seven days a week. We get a report on that from all across the state, and it is something we’re concerned about,” Wolf said.

RAPID ANTIGEN TEST CARD DISTRIBUTIONS

Wolf’s administration announced Wednesday that it began distributing the first allotment of 250,000 COVID-19 antigen test kits to Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments-certified institutions across Pennsylvania.

The test kits were provided by the federal government.

Distribution is starting with Bradford, Centre, Lebanon, Montour, Northumberland, Schuylkill and Snyder counties because of the recent high disease incidence rate in those areas.

“Antigen test cards are a timely, quick and easy-to-use tool for communities to receive rapid COVID-19 testing,” Levine said. “Antigen tests look for pieces of proteins that make up the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the virus that causes COVID-19, and are another tool in our testing tool kit to help quickly identify cases.”

Antigen tests can be considered for symptomatic individuals (within the first five to seven days of symptom onset depending upon the test) in settings where there is a high probability that the individual or population to be tested is positive.

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COVID-19 cases continue spiking in Westmoreland County