PA COVID: Gov. Wolf mulling over possible new COVID-19 restrictions as cases increase

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine again painted a bleak picture of the days to come throughout Pennsylvania's healthcare system during the battle against COVID-19.

During a news conference on Monday, Wolf said hospitals in the commonwealth are already running low on beds in their intensive care units.

"Over the past two weeks, unfortunately, Pennsylvania's situation has become more dire," Wolf said. "If you didn't know before how urgent the situation is, please pay attention now."

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Governor Tom Wolf issued a dire warning as the surge in COVID-19 cases threatens to overwhelm Pennsylvania hospitals.



The governor warned that any shortage of hospital beds means anyone who is sick, not just COVID-19 patients, are at risk.

"There are fewer resources to go around for the sickest Pennsylvanians, whatever the sickness that you're suffering," Wolf said.



As of last Thursday, the state has seen a seven-day increase with nearly 6,000 more new cases than the previous week.

Now, state officials say the decision to order more restrictions depends on the coming days.

"There is widespread community transmission across Pennsylvania," Secretary Levine said. "We do not want people to go out and celebrate, we do not want people to invite friends and neighbors over to their home and have parties. I know that is a sacrifice but that is what we have to do to stop the spread."

The possibility of new restrictions is worrisome for businesses along the North 22nd Street Corridor in North Philadelphia.

Denise's Bakery has already taken stringent safety measures with staff wearing masks and face shields and gloves. A guard is also limiting the number of customers in the store at any given time. The owners have been fighting tooth and nail to keep the business alive.

"We want to continue to be an institution in this neighborhood. This is where Denise, who is our aunt, and this is where she grew up, this is where she started, and this is where we're going to make sure her legacy continues," said co-owner Kesha Davis.

The North 22nd Business Association, which includes about 100 businesses, is urging people to patronize shops this holiday season while doing so responsibly and safely.

Wolf reiterated three ways for residents to protect themselves and others: stay home unless you need to go out; do not attend gatherings with people outside your home; and wear a mask if you do need to go out.

"Doctors and nurses are frightened, and they're asking the public for help, asking all of us for help to stop this spread of COVID," he said. "We cannot continue to take our medical workers for granted."

Pennsylvania reported 6,330 new cases on Monday in addition to 8,630 cases on Sunday, bringing the two-day total to 14,960.

That brings the statewide total to 426,444.

Another 111 deaths were reported over the weekend, bringing the statewide toll to 11,373.



SPIKE IN BUCKS COUNTY



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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