Dr. Rachel Levine at a press briefing

State Health Secretary Rachel Levine issued a call Monday to college students to take COVID-19 seriously as there has been a significant increase statewide in the number of new cases involving those between the ages of 19 and 24.

“We need your help,” Levine said during a press conference.

The percentage of positive test results has risen from below 10% in April to 19% statewide in September, Levine said. The percentage is 69% this month in north-central Pennsylvania, she said.

Meanwhile, Greene County was moved into an area of concern because its percentage rate overall has climbed to 5.1%, Gov. Tom Wolf’s office said Monday. Washington and Fayette counties were listed as areas of moderate concern regarding the spread of the virus.

“We know that congregation, especially over holidays and in college and university settings, yields increased case counts, Levine said. “The mitigation efforts in place now are essential to flattening the curve and saving lives.”

Meanwhile, 51.4% of recent patients who responded to contact tracers reported having visited a restaurant within two weeks prior to having symptoms, Wolf said in a news release.

Pennsylvania added 1,258 new cases of the virus to its total that reached 145,063 since March, Levine’s office said.

The statewide death toll from the disease climbed to 7,869 after seven new deaths were recorded since Saturday.

Washington County added 20 new cases since Saturday, taking its total to 1,210, the state Health Department said Monday. Greene County saw no new increase in virus cases where the total stood at 159. Fayette County recorded seven new cases to its total of 747. There were no new deaths in those counties.

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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