State Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine speaks during a news conference on Oct. 19, 2020. (Flickr/Office of Gov. Tom Wolf) Dr. Rachel Levine
State Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine speaks during a news conference on Oct. 19, 2020. (Flickr/Office of Gov. Tom Wolf)

The state has counted an average of 2,053 cases per day over the last seven days, breaking records for new daily infections.

HARRISBURG — Just days after President Donald Trump declared the battle with the novel coronavirus over, Pennsylvania health officials tallied 2,202 new cases of infection and 44 deaths from coronavirus-related illness.

State Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said small gatherings are contributing to the spread in families and communities, and she discouraged Pennsylvanians from attending such gatherings. 

Levine also said the state needs people to cooperate with contact tracers to pinpoint where the virus is spreading. Levine stressed that everyone can play a part by answering the call when contacted by a case investigator and participating in the interview.

Pennsylvania has seen a spike in coronavirus cases in the past several weeks, with an average of 2,053 cases per day over the last seven days, breaking records for new daily infections. The virus is now spreading faster than it did even at the height of the first wave of the pandemic in April. 

Since the start of the pandemic, state health officials have attributed 8,762 deaths to COVID-19 in Pennsylvania.

Of those who have tested positive to date, the age breakdown is as follows:

  • Approximately 8% are under the age of 18, 
  • Nearly 14% are ages 19-24,
  • Nearly 36% are ages 25-49,
  • Approximately 21% are ages 50-64,
  • Nearly 21% are ages 50-64,
  • Nearly 21% are ages 65 or older.

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These numbers, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said in a statement, serve as a “tragic reminder that President Trump has failed at his most basic and essential duty, to keep American families safe. Rather than working to contain the spread of the virus, President Trump continues to peddle the lie that America is rounding the corner on this pandemic. President Trump’s actions have cost thousands of lives and hundreds of thousands of jobs in Pennsylvania.”

Trump Touts Defeating the Coronavirus

A recent press release sent by White House science officials boasted to reporters Trump’s accomplishments, including ending the pandemic.

“Highlights include: ENDING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC,” the news release sent to reporters read. “From the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Administration has taken decisive actions to engage scientists and health professionals in academia, industry, and government to understand, treat, and defeat the disease.”

White House communications director Alyssa Farah clarified the remarks Wednesday, claiming that the release only meant to tout the work Trump has done to fight the pandemic and again repeated the claim that America is rounding the corner on the disease. 

It isn’t. In fact, the disease is spreading farther and faster than it did in the first wave.

In their daily updates, the monitoring group Covid Act Now has placed the vast majority of the country in its highest threat category, showing active major coronavirus outbreaks across the entire center of the nation. Almost every state not in this category (including Pennsylvania) is in the next-highest of four, being on the brink of a major outbreak.

Only four states and the Marianas Islands are in the elevated risk category, and none are in the category for effectively managing the pandemic. 

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Covid Act Now bases its data on how many new infections are generated from each active infection, so rather than showing the current state of the virus their data shows the trend lines and where the virus is currently going. Their data shows a corner is indeed being rounded, and it’s the one that leads back to the kind of numbers we saw in March and April.

And doctors and scientists have been warning for months that the pandemic will get worse as the weather gets colder.

Coronavirus-Cases-by-County
(Keystone Graphic/Rebecca Russ)

The Mission is Far From Accomplished

Mark Meadows, Trump’s Chief of Staff, has confessed that the virus has gotten entirely beyond the administration’s control as staff for Vice President Mike Pence have begun testing positive as well.

During the final presidential debate, after saying America was rounding the corner in the same language the White House used Wednesday, Trump said Americans were learning to live with the disease. 

“People are learning to die with it,” Biden countered.

That day, more than 30 Pennsylvanians died with it. 

Today, Oct. 29, 44 Pennsylvanians died with it.

From Sept. 1 to Oct 20, an average of just under 17 people a day died from the virus.

Biden also noted during the debate that things didn’t have to go the way they did. Trump knew the dangers of the coronavirus far earlier than Gov. Tom Wolf did, but when he took action, Trump downplayed the pandemic and criticized Wolf’s efforts to contain it.