PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Pennsylvania is "at the start of the fall resurgence" of COVID-19, the health secretary said Wednesday, urging residents once more to take steps to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Wednesday marked the ninth consecutive day that Pennsylvania's daily case count surpassed 1,000. Though some of the increase caseload is due to expanded testing, hospitalization and test positivity rates are also rising. That indicates increased viral spread, Dr. Rachel Levine said at a news conference.
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Pennsylvania is more prepared to handle the influx than it was in the spring, and state officials have no plans to impose another statewide stay-at-home order or broad-based business shutdown "at this time," Levine said.
"Working through containment and other efforts, we have no plans at this time to change the mitigation orders that are already in place," Levine said. "It's impossible for me to predict the future, but again, we're in a much better place than we were in the spring."
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Dr. Mitchell Kaminski, the program director for population health at Thomas Jefferson University, says we are in a tough spot now because there were not strict national guidelines in place at the start of the pandemic.
"Unfortunately, I think if we had been really systematic about what do do six months ago, we wouldn't be struggling as we are now with what to do next," said Kaminski.
He adds, though there may not be a lockdown in the near future, it may be the best way to end the pandemic.
"If we find that we're losing the battle with COVID and we have to sacrifice, I think we'll find that short term it's best for the population," said Kaminski.
Health officials reported 1,276 more people have tested positive for the virus, bringing the statewide total to nearly 176,000 since the beginning of the pandemic. The state reported 27 new deaths, raising the toll to 8,411.
The department is seeing significant increases in the number of COVID-19 cases among younger age groups, particularly 19 to 24-year-olds.
Mask-wearing is required in all businesses and whenever leaving home. Consistent mask-wearing is critical to preventing the spread of COVID-19, the health department says.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Pennsylvania health officials say 'fall resurgence' of coronavirus has begun
"We have seen more than 1,000 cases a day for the past nine days, which shows that we are at the start of a fall resurgence of COVID-19," Dr. Levine said.