When it comes to a countywide mask mandate, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald says everything is on the table.By Royce Jones

By: KDKA-TV News Staff

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Allegheny County Health Director Dr. Debra Bogen opened her weekly COVID-19 briefing by saying, “I wish I had good news to report today. Sadly I don’t.”

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Bogen says the number of average daily cases has nearly doubled in the past week. While the percent positivity hovered around 1% through much of June and into early July, it’s now up to 5%. Hospitalizations are also on the rise, but she says they’re not as high as other parts of the country with lower vaccination rates.

Health experts say the more contagious delta variant and unvaccinated Americans are fueling a rise in cases, and Bogen says the impact is being seen on children in Allegheny County. In July, Bogen says 25 children ages 0-4 in Allegheny County had COVID-19. In just the first third of August, that number has jumped to 67.

For parents who aren’t getting their kids vaccinated because their infections aren’t usually as severe, Bogen says the long-term effects of the virus on kids isn’t known yet and they can still infect other people.

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“I don’t think it’s a great idea to just let children get infected just because they have mild illness,” said Bogen.

To protect kids, Bogen urges people to follow the CDC guidance and wear masks.

Bogen says people have reached out either urging her to issue a countywide mask mandate for schools while others have argued against it. She says her stance remains the same, and she’ll continue to strongly encourage schools to follow the CDC guidance, which recommends everyone mask up inside K-12 schools.

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While Allegheny County Executive Fitzgerald said “we wish we had better news,” the new numbers are concerning. When it comes to a mask mandate for everyone, he says everything is on the table right now to stop the spread of COVID-19.