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Coronavirus Pennsylvania: COVID-19-Related Deaths Approaching 2,000 As Statewide Cases Rise Above 42,700; Philadelphia Cases Exceed 12,500

HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS/AP) — The number of coronavirus cases in Philadelphia has topped 12,500 as the statewide number rises above 42,700. State health officials reported Sunday 1,116 new cases in the commonwealth, bringing the statewide total to 42,794.

Pennsylvania officials say the death toll stands at 1,752.

Most of the patients hospitalized are aged 65 or older, and most of the deaths have occurred in patients 65 or older.

"As we see the number of new COVID-19 cases continuously change across the state that does not mean we can stop practicing social distancing," Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said. "We must continue to stay home to protect ourselves, our families and our community. If you must go out, please make as few trips as possible and wear a mask to protect not only yourself but others. We need all Pennsylvanians to continue to heed these efforts to protect our vulnerable Pennsylvanians, our health care workers and frontline responders."

In Philadelphia, health officials reported 237 more COVID-19 cases, bringing the city's total to 12,566. Six more people died from the virus, as the death toll now stands at 472.

Over 157,00 patients have tested negative for COVID-19 in Pennsylvania.

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On Saturday, Dr. Levine said people shouldn't be expecting a quick return to their regular way of life even after pandemic restrictions begin to ease in some counties next month. She asked how crowds and social distancing might mix in the months ahead in places such as restaurants, playgrounds and carnivals, forecast no quick end to "the new normal."

"I think that the idea -- and the governor has spoken on this -- that we're going to go back exactly to how we were before, at least for the foreseeable future, is unlikely," Levine said. "I think there will be a new normal. But as the governor often says, Pennsylvanians are strong and resilient and we will get through this."

Asked earlier whether social distancing measures would continue during the summer, Levine said it was too soon to tell, citing the progressive easing of business closure and stay-at-home orders to begin May 8 in some counties.

"It's too early to decide what things will look like in the middle of the summer," Levine said.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up in a couple of weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems are at higher risk of more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.

Levine said it was clear that "there are many more people in Pennsylvania and in any state that have had COVID-19 than we exactly know of at this time, and that does influence the death rate."


Although some areas have reported death rates closer to 1 in 100 rather than the much higher rates feared earlier, Levine noted that that range is "still 10 times the death rate that it is for influenza."

Levine said "a significant amount" of those who have died had preexisting conditions such as heart disease, hypertension, high blood pressure, and lung disease — particularly chronic obstructive pulmonary disease including emphysema and chronic bronchitis -- as well as diabetes and kidney disease.

"The majority of deaths have been in seniors, the majority of deaths have been in patients in nursing homes," Levine said. "Many of those patients have co-morbid conditions, sometimes clusters of co-morbid conditions, and that puts them at particular risk from contracting COVID-19 and from getting very ill and tragically passing away from COVID-19."

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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