COVID-19 cases in Pennsylvania up more than 70% in the past 2 weeks

HARRISBURG (WPVI) -- Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine detailed an upward trend showing a large increase in the number of coronavirus cases across the state in a press conference Monday morning

There have been 6,311 new coronavirus cases over the past 48 hours. Cases are up more than 70% in the past two weeks, and the state now has an average of nearly 3,000 new cases per day, according to The COVID Tracking Project.

The rising cases are hitting hard in places like Philadelphia, Delaware and Montgomery counties, according to the state's COVD-19 dashboard.

6abc's Data Journalism team found COVID-19 hospitalizations are on the rise too, the highest numbers since May 20.

"I think it's terrifying for a lot of folks, especially older folks," said Patrick Doherty of Chalfont.

Dr. Levine urged Pennsylvanians to cooperate with contact tracers and case investigators.

"Literally answer the phone call and participate in the interview," said Levine. "The case investigations are completely confidential, they are completely anonymous. You might just save a life by being honest during those case investigations."

As the holidays approach, the CDC and health officials are cautioning everyone to avoid gathering with extended family. Elsa Adams of Mount Airy said her family canceled their plans and they're having a small intimate dinner.

"It's a little hard because we're used to having everybody come together at one time but it's hard," said Adams. "It's difficult to adjust but it's necessary."

Despite rising case numbers and what was called the "highest case count since the beginning" of the pandemic, Levine said she does not anticipate a general school closure such as the one that happened in the spring.

Levine said that the Department of Health reserves the right to continue to make adjustments in its recommendations to schools, but ultimately the decisions are up to local authorities.

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According to Levine, this community spread of COVID is occurring through most of the counties of Pennsylvania, and the surge in cases cannot be pinpointed to one particular region.

She said this highlights the importance of everyone remaining vigilant by wearing masks and continuing to social distance. She also encouraged all Pennsylvanians to download the state's contact tracing app, COVID Alert PA.

"We can get through this, but it requires each of us to work together, united, regardless of other differences," she said. "This is a call to action. COVID-19 is right here and now we are at a critical point. We all need to take steps to prevent the spread of this virus, and if we don't we put ourselves and families at risk."

The positivity rate has risen 40% in two weeks, according to The COVID Tracking Project. And the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 stood at 1,735 on Monday, up from 1,267 a week ago, said Levine, providing what she called a "sobering look at our current reality."

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With the large crowds celebrating a Joe Biden and Kamala Harris victory around Pennsylvania this weekend, officials are warning everyone to stay on guard, as the virus is not gone.

"I think it's really scary. People aren't being too safe about it, not wearing their masks," said Alex Roberts of Bala Cynwyd. "It's a little disheartening."
Dan Parke of Fishtown, said, "It's getting a little scarier now that there are still crowds building."

As we move into the holidays, health officials are asking everyone to continue to exercise caution by avoiding gathering with extended family.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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