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Allegheny County Sees Another Record High In COVID-19 Cases

Gene J. Puskar
People gather at the Porch in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh Sunday, June 28, 2020.

With 109* new coronavirus infections, Tuesday marks the first time that Allegheny County's daily case count has exceeded 100. Like Monday, Tuesday’s cases account for roughly 17 percent of Pennsylvania’s daily total.

Infectious disease expert Dr. Amesh Adalja told WESA’s The Confluence that once the state loosened physical distancing restrictions, an uptick was expected.

"The virus hadn’t gone anywhere. And anytime there is social interaction you’re going to see cases occur,” said Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Health Security.

Adalja says this large increase doesn’t alarm him, as hospitalizations in southwest Pennsylvania are still relatively low. This is likely due in part to the fact young people make up a larger portion of recent infections.

The county reports that 26 is the median age for Tuesday’s cases, with an age range of 10 to 86 years. Also on Tuesday, there were seven new hospitalizations and no new deaths. Fatalities tend to lag behind new cases as people don’t die immediately after contracting the virus.

The county health department continues to remind residents that young people and children have died from COVID-19. The more the virus circulates in the county the more likely it will infect someone who is high risk for adverse outcomes, such as the elderly or those who are immunocompromised.

For this reason, the county banned on-site consumption of alcohol beginning Tuesday at 5 p.m. Contact tracers have found that many recent cases occurred after people visited bars and restaurants. Adalja gives this on-site consumption ban a “mixed grade.”

“What I don’t quite understand is how you extrapolate that to restaurants, because I think there some material difference from a high-end sit-down restaurant where alcohol is served with the meal to a bar that doesn’t serve food,” he said.

Adalja says society has to find a way to live with the virus; he experts that it will be circulating for another two years, if not longer, until there is a vaccine.

*An earlier version of this story misstated the number of cases reported on Tuesday.

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.