New COVID-19 cases surpass 7,000 in Pa. for first time

PITTSBURGH — Pennsylvania reported 7,126 additional positive cases of COVID-19 on Thursday.

The average number of people hospitalized in Pennsylvania per day has significantly increased since the end of September, according to a news release.

With 116 additional deaths reported from COVID-19, 9,581 people have now died across the state from it.

>>> You can see a full county breakdown HERE. <<<

Allegheny County

There were 609 new COVID-19 cases and one new death reported Thursday in Allegheny County. According to the Health Department, 492 are confirmed cases from 2,672 tests -- an 18.4% positivity rate. The remaining 117 cases are probable cases.

New cases range in age from 1 week to 98 years, with a median age of 37 years.

The dates of positive tests were from Oct. 20 to Nov. 19.

Thirteen of the positive tests are more than a week old. Most of those are from a local university, and close contacts of those cases were identified and quarantined in a timely fashion, the Health Department said.

The one new death was a person in their 70s. They died on Nov. 14.

Since March 14, there have been 22,043 cases of COVID-19 in Allegheny County residents, 1,724 hospitalizations and 465 deaths.

Beaver County

Beaver County commissioners said they’ve seen a significant spike in COVID-19 in the community over the last week, and they predict the spread is only going to worsen over the holidays.

Leaders are urging people to wear a mask indoors, and also outdoors if you can’t socially distance. They also recommend not to travel for Thanksgiving.

Here’s a look at where things stand:

35 county employees have tested positive.

63 county employees are in quarantine, including several members of the Sheriff’s Office.

Beaver County commissioners said there has been radio silence from the governor. They haven’t heard anything or been given any advice on containing the virus. They said whatever the state asks them to do, they’ll follow for public health.

“I don’t believe I’m looking for a stay-home advisory coming from the state. We saw the economic impact that happened in the spring. If our cases rise too high, there will need to be change,” said Beaver County Commissioner Daniel Camp.

Commissioners also addressed allegations that they haven’t created a safe work environment. They strongly refuted those claims, saying many of the positive cases among employees came from social activities — like hunting — outside of work.

Butler County

With COVID-19 cases rising in Butler County, leaders have an urgent message to the community — the same message we just heard from a local mother who contracted the virus a few weeks ago.

“It went through our neighborhood around Halloween. It spread like wildfire,” said Melissa Hansen of Butler County.

Hansen said several families in her neighborhood got together over Halloween, and several people became infected.

This is an example of what county commissioners said is causing the COVID-19 surge in Butler County.

“Most of it is coming from gatherings; smaller gatherings that have maybe been house parties, Halloween parties, baby showers, weddings,” Butler County Commissioner Leslie Osche said. “Because you tend not to be social distanced in those environments, or you get comfortable with those people, so people aren’t wearing masks.”

Hansen said she and her husband experienced mild symptoms. Thankfully, her kids didn’t get it; but now she’s urging others to do their part to slow the spread.

“Do the mask. Do what you’re supposed to do. Wash your hands. Stay away. Don’t do the parties. It’s not worth it,” Hansen said. “Because what we don’t want to see is any drastic mitigation. The state said they will not do that that’s not the direction they intend to go.”

At last check, the county has more than 3,300 confirmed COVID-19 cases, and as of Nov. 13, the positivity rate is 10.1%.

“I think everyone is concerned — you can’t not be concerned,” Osche said.

Osche said her biggest worry is overwhelming the hospitals and keeping them staffed. I asked her if Allegheny County issuing a stay-at-home advisory impacts how cases are being handled in Butler County.

“Anything that happens in all of the counties in southwest PA, it all affects each other because we have people moving across the lines for work,” Osche said.

Due to the rise in cases, she said the Butler Health System is expanding testing, and the county is working with the state to add a pop-up testing site in December.

Westmoreland County

In Westmoreland county, officials reported more than 200 cases for the third time this week, along with seven deaths.

One of those deaths was in a long-term care facility.