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COVID-19 Cases On The Rise In Allegheny County, Many From Out-Of-State Travel

Surfers gather on the beach in Ocean City, N.J., June 2016

COVID-19 infections are again increasing in Allegheny County.

With 45 new reported cases, Monday saw the highest daily total in over a month. This continues a concerning trend that began on Friday.

“But we can fix this,” said Allegheny County Health Department Director Dr. Debra Bogen. “We don’t want to close businesses and stores again. We want people to be out and to be following the rules and guidance. And if we do that, we can all stay open and stay safe.”

The spike comes after a week of particularly low case counts. In fact, last Wednesday saw no new cases. Bogen said Monday’s spike doesn’t seem to be caused by a backlog of testing data.

Investigation of the new cases is still ongoing. Though the county’s contact tracing data suggest the weekend's cases don't seem to have been caused by recent protests or this month's primary election. Rather, about half of the cases are related to out-of-state travel.

“I think we have been really protected here in Allegheny County and we really didn’t see the numbers like other parts of the state,” said Bogen. “We’re no longer isolated [with] everyone staying geographically located [in place.]”

Bogen declined to reveal where the recent COVID-19 patients had traveled. But she said that even when visiting areas that don’t require masks, people should still wear face coverings in public over both the mouth and nose. Face shields are an alternative for people who find masks too uncomfortable.

“Really this is about a community coming together and following the guidance that we’ve given in the past,” Bogen said.

There has not yet been an increase in hospitalizations, which can lag about a week after cases increase.

Another piece of data she noted is that the coroanvirus is now is infecting younger people.

“The case investigations that we’ve done, people have reported being out in bars, out in restaurants, being out and about in the community,” said Bogen.

The county advises that people who have been exposed to COVID-19 to get tested a week after the contact, unless they are exhibiting symptoms.

Sarah Boden covers health and science for 90.5 WESA. Before coming to Pittsburgh in November 2017, she was a reporter for Iowa Public Radio. As a contributor to the NPR-Kaiser Health News Member Station Reporting Project on Health Care in the States, Sarah's print and audio reporting frequently appears on NPR and KFF Health News.