WESA Daily Briefing: July 13, 2020
News on the coronavirus pandemic, protests, 2020 election and more from around Pittsburgh, Allegheny County and southwestern Pennsylvania.
Find all of the WESA Daily Briefing posts here.
Editor's note: This post will be frequently updated with the latest news.
5:34 p.m. — PA Department of Health warns of young people spreading COVID-19
As coronavirus cases in the United States soar, Pennsylvania’s numbers show reason for caution, said health officials on Monday.
New case numbers are rising in more than half of the state’s counties, and the percent positivity rate rose in more than a third, said Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine on Monday.
She warned that — while cases right now are not rising to the degree that they are in states such as Florida and Texas — the current increase in cases among younger people is a bad sign.
“We saw a higher number of cases right at the beginning, in people ages 19 to 49, before it spread to seniors, aged 65 and older,” said Levine. “This pattern is now repeating.”
While people in the younger age bracket did not necessarily get as sick as people in the older group, the increase in cases among people aged 19 to 49 was an indication of greater community spread.
In 12 counties, including Philadelphia, the percent positivity rate is above five percent, warranting extra scrutiny, according to Levine. The others are: Allegheny with 7.9%; Beaver with 6.3%; Butler with 5.5%; Clarion with 14.6%; Fayette with 5.2%; Greene with 5.4%; Lawrence with 5.8%; Lebanon with 5.6%; Washington with 7.2%; Westmoreland with 5.4% and York with 6.3%. In Philadelphia, the number is 5.1%.
Keeping the percent of new cases that come back positive below five percent is one measure the World Health Organization recommends to track whether the spread is contained, although it requires good baseline testing and surveillance.
3:22 p.m. — Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania sue Trump administration over visa rules
The city of Pittsburgh joined 25 cities today in support of a lawsuit to block a Trump administration move that would invalidate international student visas. Last week, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced that international students would have to leave the country if their university offered only online courses in the fall. Pennsylvania, meanwhile, joined 16 other states in a separate but similar lawsuit against the Trump administration over the visa rules.
3:06 p.m. — Recycling pickup is behind in the East End
Pittsburgh officials say more than a dozen of the city's front-line staff have tested positive for COVID-19. The departments affected include Environmental Services, Police, Fire and EMS.
The positive cases, along with employee quarantines, heat-related issues and other injuries have led to 22 Environmental Services employees currently off work, and have led to delayed recycling and refuse collection in the East End neighborhoods.
12:23 p.m. – Allegheny County passes 5,000 COVID cases
The Allegheny County Health Department reported 71 new cases today. The number is significantly lower than the 215 and 200 cases reported Saturday and Sunday, respectively. However, the number of tests administered is also lower – 741, versus 1,953 and 1,990 over the same time period . The total number of cases is now at 5,033.
The good news is Allegheny County reported only 71 new cases of COVID and no new deaths today. The bad news is that it ALSO only reported getting 741 test results in all. Positives date back to tests taken from July 1-12, so a week-and-a-half wait for some. 6 new hospitalizations— Chris Potter (@CPotterPgh) July 13, 2020
9:30 a.m. - Catholic churches closed after employee tests positive for COVID
Fives churches in the Blessed Trinity Parish of the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh will be closed all week for cleaning and sanitizing, after an employee tested positive for COVID-19.
The closures are out of an abundance of caution as the person infected, worked at St. Albert the Great in Baldwin.
St. Basil and St. Wendelin in Carrick, Holy Angels in Hayes and St. Sylvester in Brentwood will be closed this week and none will be open for daily Masses.
The Diocese says people who were in direct contact with the infected employee are being tested.
7:18 a.m. - Four more states added to PA travel quarentine list
State health officials in Pennsylvania have added neighboring Delaware and three other states to the travel quarantine recommendation aimed at stemming the spread of COVID-19 in the commonwealth. Officials say people who have traveled to Delaware, Iowa, Kansas and Oklahoma are being asked to self-quarantine for 14 days upon their return to Pennsylvania. The state earlier issued the recommendation for self-quarantine for people returning to the commonwealth from 15 other states. Another 17 deaths attributed to the coronavirus were announced, bringing the total to 6,897.
Allegheny County reported 415 new cases over the weekend, bringing the total to 4,962.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.