As some Pennsylvanians continue to downplay or even dismiss the COVID-19 pandemic as a well-timed pre-election hoax, the state’s Department of Health is reporting a new case total that tells a different story.
The department reported Friday that in the 24-hour period that ended at 12 a.m. Oct. 23, a total of 2,219 new cases of the coronavirus were confirmed in Pennsylvania.
That total smashes the previous single-day record of 2,060 cases set back on April 8, when the pandemic shutdown was in full effect across the state.
In the intervening six months Pennsylvania has had a phased reopening and life in many ways has returned to normal, although restrictions on public gatherings remain in place, and the wearing of face masks is required in businesses and public places in which social distancing cannot be maintained.
The rising case counts are also reflected in the number of patients being hospitalized for COVID-19 across the state, as well as the number of COVID-19 patients on ventilators.
According to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard, as of Friday there were 1,068 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 and 122 COVID-19 patients on ventilators statewide.
The number of deaths from COVID-19 remains low in comparison with the early days of the pandemic, when the disease raced through assisted living facilities and other types of senior housing.
On April 25 nearly 200 patients succumbed to COVID-19, according to state data. Nearly six months later, the total number of deaths on Oct. 20 was in the single digits.
The disease continues to exact the highest death toll on individuals over the age of 65 as well as people with compromised immune systems.
In Friday’s news release, the Pennsylvania Department of Health said there have been 8,625 total deaths attributed to COVID-19 since the pandemic began in March.
There have been more than 190,000 confirmed cases in that time period, and as of Friday approximately 2.2 million Pennsylvanians had tested negative for the virus at some point.
Also as of Friday, Northampton County was reporting an increase in the number of new cases being reported each day. That number has risen to an average of 32.3 for the past week, or approximately 11 new cases a day per 100,000 county residents.
The number of new cases puts the county in a “high” classification zone on the website CovidActNow and means that at the current rate, over the next year there would be around 12,000 cases and an estimated 59,000 infections (19.3 percent of the population).
A Lehigh County Wawa was also temporarily closed Friday, the company confirmed, after an employee who was last present in the store on Oct. 22 tested positive for COVID-19.
As of Friday at 3:30 p.m. the Wawa at 1584 Eighth Avenue in Bethlehem was temporarily closed for cleaning due to the positive test confirmation, the company website indicated.