Watch CBS News

Pa. Health Secretary: Allegheny County Sees Increase In Percent Positivity Of Coronavirus Tests, But There Aren't Plans To Go 'Yellow' Yet

HARRISBURG, Pa. (KDKA) - As COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the state, the Governor and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine addressed Pennsylvanians Monday.

Governor Wolf started off his message saying that up until a few days ago, he was proud to say Pennsylvania was one of few states with dropping case numbers.

"In the end, it comes down to each one of us 13 million Pennsylvanians, each and every one of us, making the right decision to do what we need to do to reduce the risk of getting this disease," Wolf said.

The Allegheny County Health Department says over last week, there were 244 new cases reported "overwhelmingly" among younger people out and about traveling, vising bars and going to restaurants.

While case numbers continue to rise in counties like Allegheny, officials said there are no plans to go back to yellow. Rather, the state is taking a more targeted approach.

The Allegheny County Health Department director told Dr. Levine the source of the county's rising cases are "more and more young people not social distancing and not wearing masks and out particularly in bars maybe restaurants."

Dr. Levine said the state supports the county's targeted approach on that age population by putting the ban on alcohol in place. It's a concept the governor said could be implemented in other counties with rising cases.

"We are sort of trying to do the same thing here and that is reduce the probability of that virus that is going to do something to harm us or someone we love," Wolf said.

UPMC doctors reported Monday that the new cases are not as severe and people are not as afraid, so they're not social distancing or wearing masks.

Dr. Levine said business owners should step up to remind patrons to wear a mask.

"Why are we taking that chance? There is no reason to take that chance. It is a pain in the neck, but it is not that hard to put the mask on in public and it needs to become socially unacceptable not to do that," Dr. Levine said.


Dr. Rachel Levine also talked about how the state monitors spikes in coronavirus cases as testing has increased since the outbreak.

"There are a couple things we look at to differentiate that," Dr. Levine said. One of those things is percent positivity.

"If we're testing more asymptomatic people, more and more people, most of whom don't have COVID-19, we're going to see that percent positivity of the number of tests go down. When we start to see that go up in a certain region or a certain county, then we're actually just seeing more cases," said Dr. Levine.

She pointed to Allegheny County as "the perfect example."

"It's only been in the last week, even less than a week, we've seen a significant increase in Allegheny County. Our percent positivity started to nudge up, then we had significant discussions with Dr. Bogen."

Allegheny County says their testing is increasing, but the positivity rate is what they're using to tell if there's a spike. They say the positivity rate two weeks ago was around 1 to 2 percent, and now it's at 6 percent -- some days higher.

Nursing homes also a topic of discussion. Dr. Levine said fewer nursing home residents are getting COVID-19 plus all staff and patients are being tested. Meanwhile the state is working on a retesting plan for specific future situations.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.