PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Allegheny County Health Department Director Dr. Debra Bogen gave a statement as COVID-19 cases reached a record high on Black Friday.
According to Dr. Bogen, if cases continue to rise at their current rate, the county’s healthcare systems will be overwhelmed within the next month.
At this time, she said that healthcare systems are equipped to deal with the cases right now.
“We know that it can take two weeks for changes in behavior to impact the spread of the virus and for case numbers to decrease, which is why I am asking you to start now,” Dr. Bogen said in her statement.
She is urging Allegheny County residents to abide by the stay-at-home advisory.
Dr. Bogen also announced that due to the number of new cases, case investigators are having to prioritize who they reach out to. Starting Friday, case investigators will no longer be able to immediately call people with new cases who are between the ages of 6 to 17 and 45 to 59 years. This development may change depending on if the daily case rate decreases.
Allegheny County released its new COVID-19 numbers on Friday — 1,642 new cases in 48 hours.
“It’s super concerning. You don’t want to see the numbers going up. It’s scary,” said Tristan Brown who lives in Lawrenceville.
Medical professionals fear this is only the beginning.
“Individuals who traveled immediately before and after Thanksgiving and unfortunately acquired the SARS virus will probably be most infectious between now and Tuesday or Wednesday,” said Dr. Arvind Venkat, an emergency medicine physician for Allegheny Health Network.
This timeline means health officials won’t have an accurate picture of the Thanksgiving Day community spread until late next week.
“We do expect the number of people who came in contact with the virus, who get infected and might need care, is all going to go up. Our hospital system is prepared to adapt to that,” said Dr. Donald Yealy, UPMC’s senior medical director.
“I understand how hard it is to stay disciplined. But the alternative is much worse. We can do these simple things. Please do them,” Yealy added.
Venkat said Allegheny Health Network is also prepared with space, but now the public needs to help protect the frontlines.
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