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By Public Source Journalists

The Allegheny County Health Department [ACHD] reported 366 new COVID-19 cases and five new deaths Wednesday. To date, ACHD has reported 18,339 COVID-19 cases and 453 deaths.

The new deaths, which ranged from Oct. 20 to Nov. 5, included a person in their 20s, two in their 70s and two in their 90s. Two of the five deaths occurred in long-term care facilities.

Individuals ages 25 to 49 represented 142 cases, the largest share of the new cases. The new caseload came from Oct. 30 to Nov. 10, appearing in individuals from age three months to 96 years old.

On Tuesday, Allegheny County reported 317 COVID-19 cases and one new death and warned against attending gatherings as the county’s case counts remain high, noting that many of the cases reported attending parties and gatherings, including several Halloween parties.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health reported 4,711 new positive COVID-19 cases Wednesday, yet again marking the state’s highest daily increase, a record already broken the day before with 4,361 cases reported. The department also reported 59 new deaths.

To date, the department has reported 243,368 cases and 9,145 deaths since the start of the pandemic in March.

Of those who have died, individuals ages 25 to 49 represent the largest share, about 36%, though most individuals who have died or been hospitalized because of the virus have been 65 or older.

Residents and employees in almost every county represent 34,077, about 14%, of the state’s total caseload and 5,922, nearly 65%, of the state’s total death toll.

Healthcare workers represent about 13,037, or 5.4%, of the state’s total caseload.

Statewide, though most deaths have occurred in individuals ages 65 or older, individuals of ages 25 to 49 represent the largest share of positive cases, at about 36%. 

Personal care and nursing homes continue to endure the most deaths, with residents representing 65.7% of all COVID-related fatalities in the state.

Healthcare workers constitute approximately 13,036, about 5.5%, of the state’s total cases.

Top COVID news for the week of Nov. 8:

  • The Department of Health provided its weekly update on Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 case investigation and contact tracing data Tuesday and urged residents to download the COVID Alert PA app to facilitate contact tracing efforts. “At this time, we have the highest number of contact tracers working to notify close contacts who are identified through the case investigation process,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “We continue to prepare for increases in cases, but we also continue to call on Pennsylvanians [to] do their part and answer the call – answer the call when a case investigator or contact tracer is calling you, answer the call to download the app, answer the call to do your part to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”  In late September, the department launched the free mobile app COVID Alert PA, which notifies a person if they have been exposed to COVID-19 without compromising the identity or location of the app’s user or person to whom they may have been exposed. The state reported that there have been more than 430,000 downloads thus far, with an average of 34,000 individuals logging their symptoms on a daily basis. 
  • The state Department of Agriculture released data on Tuesday regarding enforcement of COVID-19 mitigation requirements for restaurants, including social distancing, masking, and occupancy limits, from November 2 through November 8. The numbers include actions taken during routine food safety inspections and inspections prompted by consumer complaints. Over the past week, the Bureau of Food Safety performed 675 total inspections, 20 of which were complaint-driven with 15 being COVID-19 specific complaints. The bureau distributed 35 COVID-19 complaint-driven educational letters and referred eight COVID-19 related complaints to local and county health jurisdictions. Five formal warning letters were issued, and two citations were filed.
  • As cases surge in the United States, early results from Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine trials indicate it may be 90% effective at shielding individuals from the virus, according to a Monday press release. We don’t know when exactly we’re going to see it, but it was a very positive announcement from Pfizer, that their vaccine has been shown to be very effective,” Levine said in a press conference Monday. The company plans to apply for Food and Drug Administration approval later this month, which the agency could fast-track. Pennsylvania can’t make any use of this vaccine until after FDA approval, Levine said.
  • The state is preparing to spend $10 million on research into the long-term behavioral impacts of COVID-19 and on its overall genetic makeup and vaccine development. On Friday, Levine announced a request for applications for collaborative research into those three areas, open to organizations across the state. From the $10 million, the state plans to provide funding to three different projects. Applications are due on December 9.
  • Gov. Tom Wolf announced Thursday that nearly $20 million is now available to assist Pennsylvanians currently experiencing homelessness. Through the COVID-19 Homeless Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG-CV) funds, the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) invested in preparing emergency shelter for the 2020-21 winter months. Under a new grant program called ESG-CV Code Blue, applicants may apply for funding for emergency shelter and temporary emergency shelter. These funds will be prioritized to assist homeless providers and communities to prepare for, prevent the spread of and respond to COVID-19. “As winter quickly approaches, Pennsylvania is bracing for a surge in COVID-19 cases, all while continuing its usual work of providing shelter and services to those who are homeless,” Wolf said in a statement. “ This funding will help provide the tools that communities need to protect their residents, providing them safe shelter and preventing the spread of coronavirus further.” 
  • Allegheny County’s immunizations clinic has vaccinated nearly 1,500 people so far this flu season, which represents more than double the number typically vaccinated during an entire season, health department director Dr. Debra Bogen reported during her weekly briefing Wednesday. While California last week confirmed its first case of simultaneous flu and COVID infections, Allegheny County, which is not yet conducting dual tests, hasn’t had such a case, Bogen said.

This article was reported by Nicole C. Brambila, Oliver Morrison, Rich Lord, Matt Petras, Juliette Rihl, Charlie Wolfson, Mark Kramer, Jon Moss, Emma Folts, Veonna King, Amanda Su, Kellen Stepler, James Anthony Bell III, Sophie Burkholder and Amanda Hernandez.

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