COVID-19 cases climb even as curve shows signs of change, Levine says

    Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine and State Epidemiologist Dr. Sharon Watkins. (Photo courtesy DOH)

    Pennsylvania has now had 16 consecutive days of increased COVID-19 cases, according to state health officials. 

    The commonwealth has seen more than 1,900 new cases as of Thursday morning, of which 850 cases were in healthcare workers. Eleven percent of the state’s total case count has required hospitalization. 

    Despite the continued increase in cases, state Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said that the social distancing and other mitigation efforts have had an impact on the number of cases throughout Pennsylvania. 

    “The curve has changed,” Levine said during an online news briefing Thursday afternoon. “… but, it’s not completely flat.”

    Levine’s comments come as Education Secretary Pedro Rivera and Gov. Tom Wolf announced earlier Thursday that schools across the commonwealth would remain closed for the remainder of the school year. 

    Wolf orders all Pa. schools, public and private, shuttered until school year’s end

    “There’s so much we are still learning about COVID-19,” Levine said. “Closing schools and businesses is a hard decision.”

    Levine said that state officials do not have a specific date in mind in which businesses will be able to reopen and social distancing measures will be lifted, reiterating the words of Dr. Anthony Fauci, Levine said, “The virus determines the timeline.”

    When the time does come for the restrictions to be lifted, Levine clarified that they would most likely be done in a “slow, progressive fashion,” suggesting a county-by-county lift so that continued spread of COVID-19 could be monitored closely. 

    “There will be a time when we’ll be able to relax,” Levine offered. 

    In the northeastern part of the state, emergency management and state health officials are working on opening a new testing facility and a field hospital, Levine said. 

    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.