More than 4,400 people statewide were in the hospital on Monday with COVID-19 as Pennsylvania’s case count continues to climb.
In a statement, the state Health Department reported 5,229 new cases on Sunday and 4,268 cases on Monday, for a two-day total of 9,797 cases. Statewide, the agency has confirmed 361,464 cases in all 67 counties since the pandemic began.
State Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said the number of hospitalized individuals was a record, higher than totals in spring.
The spike also has reignited the debate over schooling amid rising cases. Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration is suggesting Pennsylvania’s 500 school districts teach remotely, but say the choice ultimately lies with school boards.
Almost three in 10 COVID cases among children were recorded in the last two weeks, Levine added.
National health experts, however, have argued for in-person schooling to remain open, citing lower than expected spread.
“Close the bars and keep the schools open,” argued Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute on Allergies and Infectious Disease, on Sunday.
Wolf administration officials added Monday that schools should be looking at how to adjust remote learning and hybrid plans to help students’ learning as well as mental and physical health.
While safe schooling is in focus, Levine also said Monday that the state would not make the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for students, or anyone.
Levine added that the state’s contact tracing app was now available to teenagers 13 and up with the permission of a parent or guardian.
The app uses bluetooth technology to detect proximity to someone who may have tested positive. The app, developed in Ireland and used by multiple states, does not track locations.
More than 10,000 Pennsylvanians have died of the virus since March.