PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine says there are "no plans" at this time to reinstate the color-coded coronavirus restrictions the state saw earlier in the pandemic.
At Dr. Levine's weekly media briefing Monday, she addressed the rising rate of infections across the state. Statewide percent positivity for last week is at 9.6%, compared to 6.9% the week before. Sixty-two of the 67 counties have positivity rates above 5%, including Allegheny County, which stands at 7.7%,
According to Dr. Levine, the new cases are connected to community spread, meaning someone gets the virus without any known contact with a sick person.
With cases here and across the state rising to their highest levels, Dr. Levine says it's our collective responsibility to stop this community spread and bring those numbers back under control.
"We can answer the call to prevent the spread of this virus COVID-19," she says.
Dr. Levine says it's up to the public to voluntarily answer the call, wear masks, social distance and avoid gatherings large and small — regardless of your political leanings.
"Now that the election is over and the people have spoken, we need to stand united about these simple public health measures. This is not a political issue. This is not a partisan issue. This is an urgent public health issue in Pennsylvania," she says.
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She says there are no plans to return to the "red, yellow, green" model, and says businesses concerned about being ordered to shut down again should continue to do their part to mitigate the spread of the virus.
"We need to enforce and to work with limiting the number of people in the business at any one time, to limit the capacity to 50%," she says.
She went on to say, "The best way we can prevent any type of significant mitigation impact like we had in the spring is to do all of those things right now."
In Allegheny County, cases have shot up since Halloween and the health department has traced the spike to "unmonitored, private social gatherings" — primarily among young people like a Pitt student KDKA talked to named Jasper.
"We're kind of fatigued, like everyone is from the pandemic. It's hard to obey the rules 24-7," he says.
Dr. Levine is asking college students to get tested and quarantine before heading home for the holidays. She's asking everyone else to limit Thanksgiving to immediate family and interact with extended family and friends remotely.
"I know that is an enormous sacrifice over Thanksgiving, over Christmas, over Hanukkah, over Kwanzaa, over New Year's, but that's what we need to do to stop the spread of this virus," she says.
She says this "significant" fall resurgence is happening in part because the colder weather is driving people inside, where respiratory viruses like COVID are spread more easily.
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