Yet Again, Pennsylvania Sets a Record for New Coronavirus Cases

A young couple walks in a Berks County park wearing masks. (Shutterstock Photo/Amy Lutz)

By Patrick Abdalla

November 13, 2020

Officials in Montgomery County, the third-most populous county in Pennsylvania, have ordered schools to close for two weeks starting on Nov. 23.

Another day, another record.

With 5,531 new coronavirus cases announced Friday, Pennsylvania has set another mark in its struggles with the pandemic.

More than 10% of the state’s 254,387 cases have come in the past seven days, according to state data.

The state Department of Health data show that 28,290 positive cases have been reported since Nov. 6. That’s 11.1% of the state’s cases since the first two reported on March 6.

The fall resurgence has seen rapidly rising numbers. In the past seven days, the state passed several single-day thresholds:

  • On Nov. 5, the state set a record with 2,900 cases.
  • On Nov. 6, the state set a new record with 3,384 new cases.
  • On Nov. 7, the state set another new record with 4,035 cases, reaching the 4,000-case mark in one day for the first time.
  • On Nov. 10, the state set yet another new record with 4,361 cases.
  • On Nov. 11, the state set its highest record yet with 5,488 new cases in a single day.

So far, 9,224 people have died in Pennsylvania from COVID-19 or other coronavirus-related illness.

Despite the rising numbers, Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said she didn’t think another statewide shutdown was likely. —Patrick Abdalla

Montgomery County Officials Order Schools to Go to Remote Instruction

Health officials in Pennsylvania’s third-most populous county on Friday ordered schools to temporarily halt classroom instruction as part of an effort to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The Montgomery County Board of Health mandated that all public and private K-12 schools in the suburban Philadelphia county offer virtual instruction for two weeks beginning Nov. 23.

The unanimous vote came one day after dozens of parents and school administrators expressed vehement opposition to the plan, calling online education insufficient and accusing the health board of failing to present any evidence linking schools to the wider outbreak.

Board members said Friday that rising cases counts and hospitalizations, along with the potential that children will contract the virus over Thanksgiving break and then spread it in schools, required them to act.

“I completely understand their concerns,” said board member Dr. Francis Jeyaraj, a pediatrician. “But these are difficult times for all of us. It’s a total community effort.”

Some schools in Pennsylvania, including the state’s largest school district in Philadelphia, have held virtual instruction all school year so far. Others started the academic year virtually and invited students to return to class at least part-time, or offered a hybrid model (students in school some days, and learning remotely other days).

Schools that are open for in-person instruction have responded to small clusters of virus cases by shutting down for several days at a time.

The state Department of Health recommends that schools go virtual if the county where the district is located is determined to have a “substantial” level of community spread for two consecutive weeks—the status in 38 counties right now—but leaves the ultimate decision to local authorities. The Pennsylvania State Education Association has called on counties to follow those guidelines. —Associated Press

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