PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Shutting down bars and restaurants for in-person operations and limiting the size of gatherings and events was an action the county was loathe to take. But after a week of elevated new cases, the COVID numbers have spiked to alarming levels for the second straight day. There were 233 cases Thursday and 177 Friday.

“It’s frustrating because in this region, in Southwestern Pennsylvania and Allegheny County, had been doing very well. Our numbers had remained very low,” County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald urged everyone to use safe practices.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

KDKA’s Andy Sheehan: “What are the prospects for these new measures to be effective and bring the virus back under control?”
Fitzgerald: “We’re hopeful. We’re hopeful. We’re just hopeful that people get the message.”

The county says young people brought the virus back from hotspot beach towns and spread it in local bars.

New cases reported traveling out of state to 60 different locations, mostly in the Carolinas and Florida. And back here, they told health department staff they’d gone to 40 different bars, restaurants and nightclubs, some where neither employees nor patrons wore masks.

Today, the median age of new cases is 28 years old, and the number of cases among 19 to 24 year-olds has doubled in the past two weeks.

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These young carrier may not even show symptom and may still spread infection, and health professionals are urging them to be cautious in their interactions with older or at-risk people.

“This is one time to think not just about your own assessment of risk, but what you might do to people unintentionally,” says Dr. Donald Yealy, the chair of UPMC’s Department of Emergency Medicine.

Now 177 cases reported today is less than the 233 reported yesterday, but the county says don’t take that as a good sign. Over the past week, the percentage of people testing positive has jumped from 5 to 10 percent.