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Allegheny County's Dropping COVID-19 Infection Rate Might Be Short-Lived As College Students Return


Out of more than 1,000 tests, there were just 14 new cases of COVID-19 reported Wednesday in Allegheny County. That is the lowest daily case count in more than two months.

“My first question to our staff [Wednesday] morning was, ‘Is that a typo?’ It wasn't,” said Dr. Debra Bogen, director of the Allegheny County Health Department.

Wednesday’s report continues the trend of declining coronavirus infections in the county. But Bogen cautioned that as college students return to Pittsburgh, numbers could easily and quickly spike, as was seen in late June.

Bogen cited the arrival of college students as the reason she isn’t yet allowing outdoor gatherings to exceed 50 people.

“Thousands of college and university students from across the county and the world returned to Pittsburgh over the past two weeks,” she said. “It will take at least three weeks to see the impact of these students on case counts."

The state’s cap is 250, but Allegheny County has had a stricter limit since early July.

“We are also an urban area,” said Bogen. “Data from across the county supports the assertion that this virus spreads more effectively in urban or crowded areas.”

Philadelphia also bans outdoor gatherings that exceed 50 people.

Both Allegheny County and the state allow up to 25 people to gather indoors. Any increase to that limit must come from the Wolf Administration.

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 where she covered a range of issues, including the 2016 Iowa Caucuses.
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