COVID-19 DOH Testing Lab

Courtesy of the Pennsylvania Department of Health

Pennsylvania Commonwealth microbiologist Kerry Pollard performs a manual extraction of the coronavirus inside the extraction lab at the Pennsylvania Department of Health Bureau of Laboratories on Friday, March 6, 2020.

Gov. Tom Wolf expanded his stay-home order to also include Lehigh and Northampton counties Wednesday after the state recorded 276 additional coronavirus cases.

The state has 10 counties, including Allegheny and Erie, under the order to help slow the spread of the virus, which has killed 11 people statewide, the state Health Department said.

“As the number of cases continues to climb in Pennsylvania our hospital beds are beginning to fill up,” Wolf said during a 3 p.m. livestream briefing on the pandemic.

His sentiments were repeated by state Health Department Secretary Rachel Levine, who said staying home during this crisis is “critical to prevent a large surge of patients over the next month.

“We have seen case counts continue to increas, and the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to stay home,” Levine said.

Hospital, commercial and state labs have reported 1,127 positive cases in Pennsylvania since early March as of midnight Tuesday, Levine said.

“Our notable increase in cases over the past few days indicates we need everyone to take COVID-19 seriously, Levine said.

“It’s going to get very high very fast,” she said.

Washington and Greene counties increased by one case each since late Monday, bringing their totals to 10 and two, respectively, state records indicate. Westmoreland County had 16 cases, while Fayette County recorded four of them.

The number of new coronavirus cases increased by 30 overnight in Allegheny County, prompting officials there to urge residents to obey Wolf’s stay-home order to prevent its spread.

The county has 88 confirmed cases of the virus, with those between the ages of 25 and 49 making up the largest number of them, Allegheny stated in a news release.

“The department continues to conduct contract tracing with those who have tested positive, making recommendations for self-quarantine as appropriate,” the county stated.

“Residents are encouraged to comply with the governor’s stay-at-home order in order to slow the spread of the virus in our community.”

The number of deaths from the virus remained at two Wednesday in Allegheny. Thirteen of the active cases were hospitalized.

There were 11,193 people who tested negative for the virus, Levine said.

The governor’s order through April 6 for residents to stay home also included Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Monroe, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties.

Those in life-sustaining jobs were allowed to go out, and trips to grocery stores, pharmacies and health-care providers were among the reasons the order could be waived.

Wolf said people across the state should not leave their homes unless it is absolutely necessary.

“We need to buy time. All of us need to do our part,” Wolf said.

Staff Writer

Scott Beveridge is a North Charleroi native who has lived most of his life in nearby Rostraver Township. He is a general assignments reporter focusing on investigative journalism and writing stories about the mid-Mon Valley.

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