New COVID-19 restrictions issued as hospitalizations rise in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania COVID-19 live updates, news and information

Friday, December 11, 2020
New COVID restrictions issued as hospitalizations rise in Pa.
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Already, the concern across the state is the number of hospitalizations that are taxing the facilities and how they are impacting health care workers.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- According to state health officials, there are currently 5,852 individuals hospitalized with COVID-19 in Pennsylvania. Of that number, 1,191 patients are in the intensive care unit.

Already, the concern across the state is the number of hospitalizations that are taxing the facilities and how they are impacting health care workers. In some areas of the commonwealth, there is a shortage of health care staff.

According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services COVID-19 hospitalization data, increases in hospitalizations are occurring in ever major city. Philadelphia is now seeing an increase in patients across all hospitals.

Area hospitals have been working together since the spring, holding weekly phone calls and eliminating the red tape that often comes with transferring patients between facilities, if needed.

The state is now averaging 10,000 new confirmed cases a day and reported 225 new deaths Friday as the statewide toll passed 12,200.

6abc's data journalism team compiled information from federal and state data that shows a seven day average of adult COVID-19 hospitalizations as of November 27.

The chart shows a clear upward trend in hospitalizations in Philadelphia, and also shows Temple University Hospital's three city healthcare campuses have the most adult COVID-19 patients in the city.

The data compiled does not include every hospital in the city and only includes hospitals with the capacity to report valid data, so small hospitals may not be included.

Health system executives and front-line medical workers alike said Thursday that the COVID situation was increasingly dire and required the state to act.

"As soon as a bed opens, it's filled again," Mitchell Davis, a Pittsburgh nurse, said in a statement distributed by the state's largest union of health care workers. "We need support from the community, support from the government, and support from our employers to be able to fight this and win."

New restrictions announced

Governor Tom Wolf announced tighter COVID-19 restrictions Thursday afternoon as the virus rages on across the commonwealth.

The following restrictions will take effect on 12:01 a.m. Saturday, December 12 and will last through 8 a.m. on Monday, January 4, 2021:

- Indoor dining is prohibited, including, but not limited to, bars, restaurants, breweries, wineries, distilleries, social clubs, and private catered events. Outdoor dining, take-out food service, and take-out alcohol sales may continue.

- Indoor operations at gyms is prohibited. Outdoor facilities and classes can continue, but all participants must wear face coverings.

- No indoor gatherings of more than 10 people. Churches, synagogues, temples, mosques, and other places of congregate worship are specifically excluded from the limitations, but are strongly encouraged to find alternative methods for worship.

- No outdoor gatherings of more than 50 people

- No in-person extracurricular activities allowed

- All sports at K-12 public schools, nonpublic schools, private schools and club, travel, recreational, intermural, and intramural sports are paused.

- In-person businesses must operate at 50% capacity

- All in-person entertainment including, but not limited to, theaters, concert venues, museums, movie theaters, arcades, casinos, bowling alleys and private clubs are prohibited from operation.

WATCH: Havertown gym owner reacts to COVID-19 restriction on "The Rush"

Wolf moved to tighten restrictions after weeks of exploding case numbers and sharply rising hospitalizations and deaths.

"We all hoped it would not come to this," he said at Thursday's virtual news conference, but "we need to slow the spread to save lives."

State officials say rising case numbers and the impact on hospitals and healthcare staff across the state led to their decision.

"We know from the contact tracing and the case investigations that were done through Philly, through Allegheny County, and that we had done, that restaurants, bars nightclubs etc. were contributing significantly to the spread in late November," Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine.

SEE ALSO: Gov. Wolf provides update on health after testing positive for COVID-19

The new restrictions come after Wolf himself tested positive for the coronavirus Tuesday and revealed the diagnosis on Wednesday.

He said Thursday he is feeling fine and that his most recent test was negative. He is currently awaiting the results of another test.

"I'm feeling well and I'm continuing to perform all my duties," he said. "...I will stay in quarantine until I'm allowed to come out, or test out of it, but I'm feeling fine and I appreciate all the well wishes."

His office said Wolf was found to have the virus after he underwent a routine surveillance test at the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, where he has been working.

Wolf's spouse, Frances Wolf, tested negative for the virus but will continue to quarantine with him at their home in Mount Wolf, near York, the governor's office said Thursday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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According to a COVID-19 tracker created by 6abc's data team, Bucks County has seen a sharp increase in the seven day average of daily new cases between November 29 and December 6.

The data shows the county has seen 73 new cases per 100,000 population. The rate is higher than the surrounding counties.

According to a spokesperson with Bucks County, the uptick could be in part because of new testing capabilities. It could also be because the county shifted to the state's case reporting system because of the increase in cases.

"State infection numbers will be as much as 10 to 15 percent higher than what the county would have reported," said the director of the county health department, Dr. David Damsker. "County health department workers no longer will be able to correct the data by eliminating duplicate cases, patients who are found not to be county residents, or laboratory errors."

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Dr. Valerie Arkoosh, chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, offered a sobering assessment of the state of hospitals in the county on Wednesday.

"Almost every hospital is at capacity. There are two that aren't but the remainder are quite full, " said Arkoosh.

It's a similar scenario in medical centers across Pennsylvania where the number of COVID-19 patients being treated in a hospital is approaching a record 4,800.

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