PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Wearing masks is the message dominating the coronavirus conversation across the country as this week begins with rising case numbers.

For seven consecutive days, new cases have been reported in Allegheny County in increasing numbers. Contact tracing has put the onus on young people getting out and going to bars.

“It is perfectly natural to want to re-engage. What we have to do is do it smarter,” says Dr. Don Yealy, who Chairs UPMC’s Emergency Medicine Department.

The eye-opening rise in cases is not only a concern in Allegheny County.

“We’ve got to get this under control because those individuals can spread this disease even unknowingly to those most vulnerable,” U.S. Health Secretary Alex Azar said on CBS This Morning.

Dr. Yealy agrees.

“When you are in the grocery store, you don’t know who is vulnerable around you,” he said.


That said, Dr. Yealy says the Pittsburgh region medical community is better positioned to handle an influx than it was earlier this year and compared to the rest of the country.

“I think we’re in a better place, and I think we started in a better place,” Dr. Yealy said.

“We now have more and more different drugs,” says Dr. Yealy. “Different ways to treat people and we have the capacity. We can handle not only what is happening right now, but if it grows. I don’t want it to grow. But I know we’re ready for that and we can provide that care.”

Case increases are one thing but any sign of hospitalizations rising substantially and the health care system heading for an overload could prompt restrictions beyond Allegheny County’s alcohol shutdown.

Bars, restaurants, businesses, hairdressers, all want to avoid any further restrictions.

“We don’t have to go back to a shutdown if we can listen to the simple messages,” said Dr. Yealy. “Wear your mask, wear it right, don’t go out sick, wash your hands. If I can see your nose, you’re not wearing your mask right.”

While there is no carved in stone formula of cases or hospitalizations that would prompt more restrictions, those possibilities are out there. Dr. Yealy says the recent increase in cases is a reminder the virus hasn’t gone away and is going to be with us for some time.