COVID-19 cases reach highest spike in Delaware County since pandemic began

MEDIA, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Delaware County announced on Friday its highest daily case count of COVID-19 since the pandemic began and a concern for the hospital system being overrun.

They made strong pleas for people to follow all the Pennsylvania Department of Health guidelines.

County Council Chairman Brian Zidek has been keeping tabs on the COVID-19 data.

"The numbers are alarming, as well as the high number of COVID-19 related deaths is also alarming," said Zidek.

To date, officials said there have been a total of 21,290 positive cases in the county and 873 deaths.

"The recent spike in cases has resulted in Delaware County hospitals diverting patients, longer than normal wait times in emergency rooms, and first responders and essential health care workers being greatly impacted," said Zidek.

Officials said the virus is sparing no one, resulting in fewer 911 operators to take calls and fewer police officers, firefighters, and EMS personnel to respond.

RELATED: Delaware County, Pennsylvania plans for COVID-19 vaccine arrival
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The first shipments of the coronavirus vaccines could go out within the next several weeks.



They are also keeping an eye on the five-county hospitals.

"They are all very busy, but they're all managing it. The future in terms of whether we're worried about the future, I think that's the point of Council's leadership on this call," said Tim Boyce, Director of Delaware County Emergency Services.

Action News spoke with some Delaware County residents were alarmed with the spread of the virus.

"I'm a little anxious because I have asthma as well. So you debate every day whether you have to work, but it's a big decision," said Gail Hampson of Springfield.

"The increase is very heartbreaking, so I hope everyone starts to listen, stay safe, stay quarantined as much as possible," said Charlise Walker of Clifton Heights.

But the challenge for county officials is that some people are very skeptical.

"Listen, I work, I wear masks all day long, but I don't see it being as high as it is, I don't know where people are getting all their information from," said Dominic Verdi of Ridley Park.

"For something that has such a high survival rate, I don't know why our freedoms are being stripped away, and we're being forced to wear masks, which clinically are proven to make you more unhealthy," said John Lynch of Ridley Park.

The CDC says masks are a simple barrier to help prevent your respiratory droplets from reaching others. Studies show that masks reduce the spray of droplets when worn over the nose and mouth. The CDC says wearing a mask does not raise the carbon dioxide level in the air you breathe.

"The CO2 completely escapes into the air through and around the sides of the cloth mask when you breathe out or talk. CO2 is small enough to easily pass through any cloth mask material. In contrast, the virus that causes COVID-19 is much larger than CO2, so it cannot pass as easily through a properly designed and properly worn cloth mask," the CDC says.

According to the CDC, you should wear a mask, even if you do not feel sick.

"This is because several studies have found that people with COVID-19 who never develop symptoms (asymptomatic) and those who are not yet showing symptoms (pre-symptomatic) can still spread the virus to other people. The main function of wearing a mask is to protect those around you, in case you are infected but not showing symptoms."

In an update last month, the CDC said wearing a face covering doesn't just protect the people around you, but it also protects the wearer from incoming virus projectiles.

The CDC says it is especially important to wear a mask when you are unable to stay at least 6 feet apart from others since COVID-19 spreads mainly among people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).

As it pertains to the mortality rate, the CDC recently gave an update concerning two studies. The studies showed there was improved survival of patients with COVID-19 over time in the United States and England. The CDC said this suggests "this may be due to improvement in patient management, timing of admission to critical care units, change in hospital capacity, improved understanding of disease progression, and expanded use of steroids."

Dr. Barry J. Make, a pulmonologist and critical care specialist at National Jewish Health, told HealthLine he thinks that some of the decline in mortality among hospitalized patients is due to less sick people ending up in the hospital.

But even with better survival rates among people hospitalized with COVID-19, HealthLine said, the ongoing surge in cases in the United States means that more deaths will follow.

"There are still a lot of people dying," Make said. "Even if the percentage of patients that die is smaller, as hospitalizations rise you're still going to have an increase in the total number who die."

More than 2,800 COVID-19 deaths were reported Wednesday in the United States -- the most the country has ever reported in a single day.
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As the U.S. reported another 177,000 new coronavirus cases Tuesday, the CDC issued recommendations on who would get the vaccine first.



Councilmember Elaine Schaefer had this message for those not following the guidelines.

"We are urging you to do the right thing, have personal responsibility, think about our community as a whole and not just yourself," said Schaefer.

For the time being, the council does not anticipate adding additional mitigation measures.

But one noted, that could change if things get worse.
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