As coronavirus cases continue to rise in Pennsylvania, the state’s health secretary said residents have a “collective responsibility” to contain the virus through mitigation efforts.

Dr. Rachel Levine said during a Thursday press briefing that health officials would be monitoring the “downstream impacts” of rising positive cases, like potential surges in hospitalizations, to determine if additional efforts need to be implemented.

“At this time, we have no further plans to expand into the red, yellow, green zones with that type of mitigation,” Levine said, referring to the designations counties were under during the early months of the pandemic.

Levine again urged people to forego even small gatherings, instead observing them only with people who reside in their homes.

She said she recognizes the sacrifice of foregoing holiday or birthday celebrations.

“Throughout Pennsylvania and throughout the nation, we are seeing the impact of really small gatherings … and how that contributes to the spread in families, in communities, and throughout the state,” she said. “That’s a tremendous sacrifice that we’re asking people to make but it is absolutely necessary.”

On Thursday, 2,202 additional positive cases brought the state’s total to 202,876. Forty-four newly reported deaths brought that count to 8,762.

Deaths in Washington County rose by one to 35, while Allegheny County noted five deaths, bringing its total to 416.

No additional deaths were reported in Fayette or Greene counties.

Case counts rose in all four counties: Fayette by 16 to 1,035; Washington by 35 to 2,204; Greene by four to 244; and Allegheny by 147 to 15,449.

In Westmoreland County, where there have been outbreaks in the county jail and the Westmoreland Manor nursing home, an additional six deaths were reported. Seventy-four new positive cases brought that county’s total to 4,334.

Meanwhile, Washington County Commissioner Nick Sherman announced that he had contracted COVID-19. According to a statement he released Thursday afternoon, Sherman said he traced the infection back to a friend he saw last weekend, “and have taken appropriate steps to contact people I interacted with.”

Sherman said he had mild, flu-like symptoms and a headache, and will be working from home for the next two weeks. He said his office and meeting rooms in the county complex in Courthouse Square would be cleaned and disinfected, and staff who work for the commissioners are encouraged to be tested “for their well-being.”

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