Pa. Health Secretary Levine: COVID cases back to early pandemic highs

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

    Daily increases in COVID-19 cases are the highest they have been since the start of the pandemic in March, state Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said Monday. 

    The statewide total of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic has now reached 211,996 with 8,823 dead.  

    “This virus is not going away,” Levine said. 

    The Health Department reported 3,969 cases in two days on Monday, confirming seven fatalities over the two-day span.

    With less than 24 hours before the polls open to voters, Levine asked Pennsylvanians to prepare a “COVID kit” to take with them if they plan to vote in person on Election Day.

    Polling place COVID kits should include: 

    • Mask
    • Pen (Blue or Black pen)
    • Hand sanitizer
    • COVID Alert PA app on your phone

    While the Department of State strongly encourages voters to wear masks, voters who are not wearing masks will not be denied the opportunity to vote. The department also asks voters to practice social distancing at the polls for everyone’s safety and wellbeing.

    Levine reiterated that nothing in the Department of Health’s quarantine rules stop someone from being able to vote. However, Levine recommended that voters in quarantine contact the DOS to safely cast their ballots using an alternative method. 

    Levine encouraged Pennsylvanians to follow DOS’ directive to hand deliver mail-in ballots to local election officials to ensure they are counted. 

    In her briefing with reporters, Levine noted that Pennsylvania logged more than 2,000 cases of COVID-19 in five days of the last week. 

    She said the statewide percent positivity has increased a percentage point from last week to 6 percent. 

    Forty of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties have a percent positivity of 5 percent, Levine said, adding that the number of hospitalizations statewide is expected to increase. 

    “COVID-19 is increasing in all regions of Pennsylvania,” Levine said. “All parts of the country are seeing the same increases.” 

    Despite the record increase in cases, there have been fewer deaths, Levine said, attributing the decrease in deaths to better medical care and treatments. 

    “We are in much better shape than we were in the spring,” Levine said.

    Levine encouraged those who tested positive for COVID-19 to answer the call from contact tracers and to answer their questions to help contain the virus’ spread. 

    “Answer the call,” Levine said. “You might save a life.”

    Levine announced Monday that on Thursday, Nov. 5 she would outline the state’s plan for distributing vaccines when they are ready.

    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.