Allegheny County has experienced three consecutive days of higher amounts of COVID-19 cases as it prepares to ban alcohol consumption Tuesday at bars and restaurants to slow the spread of the virus.
The county announced 83 new cases of the virus Monday, a day after it experienced a record-setting one day total of 96 positive test results for the disease.
The onsite alcohol consumption ban was issued under a Sunday order by Debra Bogen, director of the Allegheny County Health Department, because the increase in COVID-19 cases was linked to young adults crowding bars.
“We’re taking these steps today to further protect the health and safety of all residents through my authority under the Pennsylvania Disease Prevention and Control Law,” Bogen said Sunday, adding the ban is in place indefinitely.
State Health Sec. Rachel Levine said she “strongly supports” Bogen’s order, adding the spike in cases also resulted from travel and not practicing social distancing or wearing masks to slow the spread of the virus.
Levine also said there is no plan in place to return Allegheny to the yellow caution phase of reopening.
“This virus is not gone,” Levine said Monday, when she joined Gov. Tom Wolf in thanking health care workers during a briefing at UPMC Pinnacle Community Osteopathic Hospital in Harrisburg.
Much of the discussion at the briefing centered on the need for people to wear masks in public under a state order to wear them when entering businesses.
Levine said the wearing of masks “needs to become socially unacceptable” because those who do not are putting people in danger.
UPMC staff also reported Monday the disease appears to be less severe and that treatments, such as steroids and clinical trials, seem to be keeping more patients off of ventilators.
The novel coronavirus has killed 6,614 Pennsylvanians since March after eight new deaths were announced Monday. There were 492 new cases statewide, taking the total to 85,988.
Washington County reported five new COVID-19 cases Monday taking its total to 216, and Greene County showed no increase in cases.
Wolf said Pennsylvania was still not experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases that would threaten health-care systems.
“We think it’s the bars,” he said, adding other places in the state are considering issuing an alcohol ban, too.
“This is a war we’re all in together,” Wolf said. “The enemy is that virus. It’s not a liberal or conservative thing. Wear the mask.”