Top Pittsburgh-area doctors say spring COVID-19 surge could be coming

PITTSBURGH — Top doctors in our community say a spring surge in COVID-19 cases could be coming.

“In the medical community, we are concerned,” said Dr. Raymond Pontzer, an infectious disease doctor with UPMC St. Margaret.

[Here is how to stay informed about coronavirus updates from WPXI]

Across Pennsylvania, the seven-day average of new coronavirus cases has been steady around 2,000. Allegheny County has seen similarly stagnant numbers -- with about 3,700 cases over the past two weeks.

But as the weather warms up and restrictions start to loosen, doctors told Channel 11 it’s a race against time. The writing is on the wall about what could be coming.

“The rise over the past week or two in our state and western Pa. is something we need to be very wary about,” Pontzer said.

Dr. Debra Bogen, director of the Allegheny County Health Department, said there are a variety of factors that would suggest our area is heading for a spring surge.

There is concern about COVID-19 variants in our communities that spread more easily and more people gathering while letting their guards down.

The upcoming relaxing of restrictions on April 4 has doctors most concerned.

“Lifting restrictions will put more people closer together, and it may be somewhat premature based on statistics we’ve seen recently,” Pontzer said.

Travelers at Pittsburgh International Airport said the terminal was packed last week with little-to-no social distancing in TSA lines, on escalators or trams.

The airport told Channel 11 they are taking precautions to adhere to CDC guidelines, including:

  • Airport-wide mask mandate
  • Reconfigured seating areas
  • Social distancing markers

Infectious disease doctors are urging people to hang tight and remain vigilant until at least two weeks after they have been fully vaccinated -- saying a large supply of vaccine is on its way.