“Be safe, be responsible. Again, we need to come together by staying apart,” said Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.By Andy Sheehan

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Wednesday’s Allegheny County Health Department coronavirus briefing took on extra importance.

Heading into Thanksgiving, Allegheny County had another 500-plus case day. Dr. Debra Bogen again asked for the public’s help in trying to bring this virus back under control.

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“It has been a challenging couple of weeks, and I’m not sure when things are going to get any better,” said Dr. Bogen.

No new restrictions or no new sanctions. In the face of rising numbers in the county, the health department and leaders asked the public to help arrest the community spread over the holiday. Mask up, social distance and limit gatherings to family only.

“Be safe, be responsible. Again, we need to come together by staying apart,” said Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.

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The case numbers continue to alarm. With 555 new cases announced on Wednesday in Allegheny County, it brings the 10-day total to 5,153. To put that number in perspective, it nearly equals the combined number of cases during the entire months of October and September — 5,449.

And hospitalizations are on the same trajectory. UPMC reports 264 coronavirus patients currently in its local hospitals, while Allegheny Health Network has 213. Both health systems say they have more than an ample number of ICU beds but are also are urging the public to comply with protocols to arrest this spike and avoid an even more dramatic increase.

“The freedom to infect other people is not a freedom we appreciate and talk about,” Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald said with the vaccine on the near horizon, the finish line is in sight. He is asking the public to hold on for this final push and adhere to protocols for the next few weeks and months to avoid a major surge in the meantime.

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“We’re in the red zone. As Steeler fans, we know what that is. We’re on the 10-yard line. We just have a little time to go,” Fitzgerald said.