Pennsylvania COVID cases skyrocket; businesses preparing for possible 2nd lockdown

Pennsylvania COVID-19 live updates, news and information

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Monday, November 16, 2020
Pennsylvania COVID cases skyrocket; businesses preparing for possible 2nd lockdown
As Philly officials are expected to announce new COVID-19 restrictions on Monday, the restaurant industry in neighboring counties are preparing for a possible second lockdown.

NORRISTOWN, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- As Philadelphia officials are expected to announce new COVID-19 restrictions on Monday, the restaurant industry in neighboring counties are preparing for a possible second lockdown.

In Montgomery County, Eric Dimario, the bar manager at Pub of Penn Valley, said workers are just rolling with the punches as the number of COVID cases skyrocket.

"There's always that fear that today might be the last day," said Dimario. "It's worrisome but if they shut down indoor dining we still have outdoor for now. We have a very good loyal fan base, we do a lot of takeout," said Dimario.

Restaurant managers said they've adapted their business models since the pandemic hit. For the last eight months at Ginza Restaurant in Narberth, they've relied 80 to 90% on takeout.

"It's really scary you know because if we don't have takeout either, then I don't have income," said Kyung Kang, manager of Ginza Restaurant. "I wish I could have my employees, you know?"

And Royal Cafe Narberth is one of the brave restaurants that opened in the middle of the pandemic. They said they don't even offer indoor dining but if another lockdown hits, they say they're ready.

"I think we are pretty comfortable with what we've got," said manager Katie Jean-Baptiste. "We will follow every guideline that comes from the government and the state to keep everybody safe and secure, and that's our top priority. Until then, we'll just keep operating how we've been operating."

The Pennsylvania Department of Health will announce Sunday's COVID-19 case totals on Monday, but on Saturday, the commonwealth recorded 5,551 positive cases, bringing the statewide total to 259,938.

There were 50 new deaths reported Saturday for a total of 9,274 deaths attributed to COVID-19. There were 30 new deaths reported Friday.

Health officials said the number of tests administered within the last 7 days between November 7 and November 13 is 366,928 with 30,437 positive cases. There were 52,408 test results reported to the department through 10 p.m., November 13.

There are 8,089 individuals who have a positive viral antigen test and are considered probable cases and 644 individuals who have a positive serology test and either COVID-19 symptoms or a high-risk exposure.

There are 2,538,147 individuals who have tested negative to date.

Of those who have tested positive to date the age breakdown is as follows:

Approximately 1% are ages 0-4;

Approximately 2% are ages 5-12;

Approximately 5% are ages 13-18;

Approximately 13% are ages 19-24;

Approximately 36% are ages 25-49;

Approximately 21% are ages 50-64; and

Approximately 20% are ages 65 or older.

There are 2,314 individuals hospitalized with COVID-19. Of that number, 480 patients are in the intensive care unit with COVID-19. Most of the patients hospitalized are ages 65 or older, and most of the deaths have occurred in patients 65 or older.

The department has seen significant increases in the number of COVID-19 cases among younger age groups, particularly 19 to 24-year-olds.

The Department of Health said, in nursing and personal care homes, there are 29,296 resident cases of COVID-19, and 6,074 cases among employees, for a total of 35,370 at 1,148 distinct facilities in 64 counties. Out of the total deaths, 6,059 have occurred in residents from nursing or personal care facilities.

Approximately 13,403 of our total cases are among health care workers.

Philadelphia to announce new restrictions on Monday

The City of Philadelphia is expected to announce new restrictions related to the coronavirus outbreak on Monday.

"We're working out exactly what those will be right now," Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said on Friday.

A news conference with more details is expected on Monday afternoon, the city said.

Montco Schools Ordered to go Virtual

Health officials in Pennsylvania's third-most populous county ordered schools Friday to temporarily halt classroom instruction in what they said was an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

The Montgomery County Board of Health mandated that all public and private K-12 schools in the suburban Philadelphia county offer virtual instruction for two weeks beginning Nov. 23.

The unanimous vote came one day after dozens of parents and school administrators expressed vehement opposition to the plan, calling online education insufficient and accusing the health board of failing to present any evidence linking schools to the wider outbreak.

Board members said Friday that rising cases counts and hospitalizations, along with the potential that children will contract the virus over Thanksgiving break and then spread it in schools, required them to act.

"I completely understand their concerns," said board member Dr. Francis Jeyaraj, a pediatrician. "But these are difficult times for all of us. It's a total community effort."

Board member Barbara Wadsworth, senior vice president and chief nursing officer at Main Line Health, said her four hospitals were treating 33 patients for COVID-19 four weeks ago, with that number rising to 106 now.

She said virtual instruction is "difficult and certainly not easy, but I think that if we don't do this then we will be in a significantly worse situation post-Thanksgiving holiday."

The decision left some parents furious.

"It was like a moment of being speechless and wanting to scream at the top of my lungs at the same time," said Katrina Turtu of Telford.

After hearing the board's decision to close all schools for two weeks, Turtu says she was left feeling frustrated and deflated. Her daughter, Annabella, is on the autism spectrum and has severe anxiety.

"Within a month of her being out of school, she was expressing suicidal tendencies. At 7 years old her words were she 'can't handle this anymore,' she 'doesn't want to live.' I wanted these people yesterday, and those board members, to think about that for a second," says Turtu.

Parents worry that this two-week time period may be extended and wonder why other businesses aren't being shuttered first.

"I don't want anything to shut down quite honestly, but I know that schools are not the first thing to shut down," said Erin Stein or Fort Washington.

The board made one small concession, dropping language that made the shutdown more open-ended.

Across Pennsylvania, some schools, including in the state's largest school district in Philadelphia, have yet to return to classroom instruction, while others started the academic year virtually and then invited students to return to class at least part time.

Schools that are open for in-person instruction have responded to small clusters of virus cases by shutting down for several days at a time.

Gov. Tom Wolf ordered a statewide schools closure after the pandemic arrived in Pennsylvania last March.

For this academic year, the Pennsylvania Department of Health recommends that schools go virtual if the surrounding county is determined to have a "substantial" level of community spread for two consecutive weeks - the status in 23 counties right now - but leaves the ultimate decision to local authorities.

The Montgomery County Office of Public Health said they will now vote Friday at noon on whether to start two weeks of virtual-only school beginning November 23.


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