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School Openings Hinge On Case Counts, Health Official Warns

classroom_school_coronavirus.jpg
Chris Carlson
/
AP
Principal Susan Stevens talks to the media during a demonstration of a socially-distanced classroom at A.J. Whittenberg Elementary School of Engineering Monday, July 20, 2020, in Greenville, S.C.

Every region of Pennsylvania has seen an increase in the rate of positive coronavirus cases and failing to stop that could jeopardize the reopening of schools for the fall semester, the state's top health official said Thursday.

In addition, Health Secretary Rachel Levine said the majority of counties have seen increases in the number of new cases.

“It’s critical to drive down the case counts now in terms of the rise of new cases in order to prepare for schools to reopen," Levine said during a news conference Thursday. "If we don’t do that now, that would put that in jeopardy.”

In response to the rise in new cases, Gov. Tom Wolf's administration last week imposed a new round of restrictions targeting bars, restaurants, nightclubs and indoor gatherings to slow the virus’ spread.

In July, Pennsylvania's 14-day rate of new cases per 100,000 residents has risen by more than 50%, from below 60 to 90.

The seven-day positivity rate — based on the Health Department’s daily public disclosures of the number of people who are newly confirmed to be positive and the number of people who tested negative — has gradually increased in July, from about 4.5% to 5.8%.

Deaths have declined in July, although hospitalizations are on the rise across the state, according to state data.