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Allegheny Co. Health Dept.: New Coronavirus Cases 'Overwhelmingly' Among Younger People Traveling, Going To Restaurants And Bars

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP/KDKA) — Pennsylvania health officials are looking closely at areas where COVID-19 infection rates and deaths are ticking back up, threatening to turn back progress against the pandemic, the state's health secretary said Friday.

"We are doing quote-unquote a deep dive into all of the counties that have had increases," Dr. Rachel Levine said, warning that "community spread" is occurring in some parts of the state.

The rise may be attributable to the gradual reopening that has been taking place in Pennsylvania, as well as more extensive testing, Levine said.

Cases are on the rise in Allegheny County, which reported 61 new confirmed infections Friday, its second-highest total.

"Makes me nervous because I thought things were getting better," said Sheena Nolan, who shops in Crafton.

"I think we just did a little too much too fast," said Janet Spells, who lives in Garfield. "It's nice to know we are coming up, and now that we are up, look at this."

"That's really scary because now it makes me think 'okay, then are we going to be in this until December?' Like how long is this going to last?" said Stephen Solomon.

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

However, the county health department says they didn't identify any clusters among travel destinations or activities, and they can't know exactly when someone contracted the virus.

Myrtle Beach, Houston, Nashville, Miami, Tampa and Naples "came up multiple times" during case investigations.

New cases also told the health department they'd been to bars and restaurants around the county. There were fifteen different bars and restaurants these new coronavirus patients had visited or worked at. Five were reported multiple times.

"People are opening too fast themselves. Like they are thinking, 'it's okay life can go back to normal,' but really it can't yet," Solomon said.

Nearly a dozen restaurants from all corners of the county shut their doors in the last week after one or more employees tested positive for COVID-19.

A small number of new cases said they had gone to church, family get-togethers, kids' activities or protests.

Two-thirds of this week's new cases are between 19 and 49 years old.

"The first thing I think about is people not wearing masks. You see that all over the place -- even just walking my dog I see it. And wearing a mask is just mutual respect for each other," Solomon said.

The people who spoke with KDKA's Nicole Ford, like Solomon, said wearing a mask should be a priority for people heading out into the community.

"She's 1 so she's not able to wear a mask, so it's scary to see other people walking around with no mask," Nolan said about her one year old daughter.

More information on the Coronavirus pandemic:

(TM and © Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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