Health experts sounding alarm as COVID-19 cases skyrocket across nation

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the nation added 105,537 new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, the highest count of new cases in a single day since officials started tracking in January. Pennsylvania was among the highest.

"The most important thing is to wear a mask, wear a mask and if you can't be wearing a mask then you better just stay home entirely," said Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley.

COVID-19 cases are skyrocketing across the city. On Thursday, 400 new cases were reported in Philadelphia.

"So our case count has increased by about five-fold over the last six weeks or so. This is a sign we're really entering a period that is very dangerous," said Farley.

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The US broke a daily coronavirus record on Thursday -- in a week marked by record daily cases -- when it surpassed 118,000 new infections.

Meanwhile across Pennsylvania, 2,900 new cases reported, the highest increase of cases in a single day according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, with 47 new deaths reported. Officials say 1,531 people were hospitalized across the state, 335 people are in intensive care.

At Einstein Medical Center, nurses are reporting many of the patients coming in are younger with mild to moderate flu-like symptoms. But in the past week, they are also seeing more serious cases requiring admissions.

"And the hospital is taking some precautions now to set up some negative pressure rooms and single isolation rooms for patients that need to be admitted," said Peg Lawson, co-president of Einstein Nurses United.

Generally, people are beginning to take notice of the surge in COVID-19 cases.

"I think people should be more aware of what's going on as far as being careful," said Robert Correll of Nicetown.

"I really do think that we should lockdown. I think it's a serious situation and I think that it's not being taken as seriously as it should be," said Makeeda Samad of Strawberry Mansion.

"Financially, not viable to go into a complete lockdown again. I think it would cripple a lot of businesses that barely made it through the last one," said August Perry, a senior at St. Joe's University.

The city is now urging people to be extremely careful as we approach the holiday season.

"Now if people do that, we might be able to get this under control. But if we don't and cases continue to rise, we may have to put in place additional restrictions as we did last spring," said Dr. Farley.

There is no vaccine yet, but the World Health Organization says there are currently 10 vaccines in late-stage Phase III trails around the world. Five of those in the U.S. could be available once approved by the FDA, possibly by the end of the year.
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