As case counts climb, Levine says there’s ‘no plans’ for another shutdown

    Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine briefs reporters on Monday, 10/26/20 (screen capture)

    Pennsylvania once again set a new record for positive COVID-19 cases Thursday with the Department of Health reporting 5,488 new cases and 49 new deaths. 

    This brings the statewide total to 248,856 cases and 9,194 deaths since the pandemic began. 

    Yet despite the rise in cases,  state Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said there are currently no plans for another shutdown. 

    Levine acknowledged that another shutdown would have “social and economic consequences.” 

    “We are better prepared than we were in the spring,” Levine said, citing better medical care, therapeutic treatments and resources now available to health care facilities treating those with the virus.  Monoclonal antibodies and remdesivir are among the newer treatments, Levine said.

    Levine urged individuals contacted by contact tracers to “answer the call.”

    “We are continuing to be challenged in terms of people answering the phone and being forthcoming,” Levine said. 

    Additionally, Levine recommended that Pennsylvanians download the state’s COVID Alert PA app, which can be downloaded from Google Play and the Apple App Store. 

    Levine reiterated that the app does not track an individual’s location, but uses bluetooth technology to identify if you’ve been around someone who was exposed to COVID-19. 

    As case counts continue to shatter records, Levine noted that in the spring, Pennsylvania’s ventilator usage rate was at 30 percent. Now, it is at 9 percent – lower than the current national average of 12 percent. 

    Disputing claims the virus is less severe than it was in the spring, Levine pointed to states such as Ohio and Wisconsin, which are seeing high numbers of hospitalizations from COVID-19. 

    Starting Monday, Chicago will implement a 30-day stay-at-home order for all residents. 

    “There’s absolutely no evidence that the virus is less severe or virulent than it was before,” Levine said.  

    With the holiday season approaching, the department is recommending that college students get a COVID-19 test before they head home at the end of the semester.

    Cassie Miller
    A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry. Miller has an extensive background in magazine writing, editing and design. She is a graduate of Penn State University where she served as the campus newspaper’s photo editor. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in professional journalism at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In addition to her role at the Capital-Star, Miller enjoys working on her independent zines, Dead Air and Infrared.