Cars line up outside the Central Outreach Wellness Center on the Northside of Pittsburgh, Monday, March 16, 2020, for drive-by testing for COVID-19. The testing, that is limited to 100 kits at present, is being done in partnership with Quest Diagnostics, one of the commercial laboratory companies that have offered COVID-19 tests to dramatically increase the nation's capability. Central Outreach Medical Director Dr. Stacy Lane said the drive-by testing is being used to not contaminate waiting rooms. The testing is based on screening questions for symptoms of dry cough or fever, Central Outreach said.
Sarah Boden covers health, science and technology for 90.5 WESA. Before coming to Pittsburgh in November 2017, she was a reporter for Iowa Public Radio where she covered a range of issues, including the 2016 Iowa Caucuses.
Sarah’s reporting has appeared on NPR’s Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition Saturday and WBUR's Here and Now. She has won multiple awards, including a regional Edward R. Murrow for her story on a legal challenge to Iowa's felon voting ban.
(Pittsburgh) — Allegheny County reported Monday that another 83 residents have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. These new cases comprise nearly 17 percent of all cases reported in Pennsylvania on Monday.
Based on the percent of positive cases out of the total number of tests, the spike is not the result of increased testing capacity. Earlier this month, the daily positivity rate hovered between 1-2 percent. Now the number fluctuates between 5 and 9 percent, and preliminary data puts Saturday’s positivity rate at 19 percent.
“When people drink alcohol, they tend to lose inhibition… and can’t adhere to the physical distancing and mask recommendations,” said department director Dr. Debra Bogen, when announcing the ban.
Gene J. Puskar / AP Photo
People gather at tables outside Bar Louie on the Northside of Pittsburgh Sunday, June 28, 2020. In response to the recent spike in COVID-19 cases in Allegheny County, health officials are ordering all bars and restaurants in the county to stop the sale of alcohol for on-site consumption beginning on June 30.
University of Pittsburgh social epidemiologist Christina Mair said she’s been thinking for weeks that the county needs to close bars.
“Once you have a beer or two, you tend to get what’s called alcohol myopia. You tend to get very distracted by everything else going on around you,” said Mair.
Though people won’t be able to drink at bars and restaurants, they can still purchase beverages to go. The atmosphere of these venues makes transmission more likely, especially if people are drinking indoors.
Mair acknowledges this decision will have economic repercussions. But she said it might help keep infection rates low enough that kids can return to school in the fall.
“It’s the risk-benefit,” she said. “Where are the places where allowing more risk because they’re more important?”
Despite the increase in cases, there has not been a large uptick in severe illness.
On Monday there were no new deaths, and just four additional COVID-19 hospitalizations. However, indicators of severe illness lag behind new cases numbers.
Elderly and immunocompromised individuals are more at risk for severe COVID-19 outcomes. This is part of the reason why outbreaks at nursing homes have resulted in many fatalities. Of the newest cases, the county says the age of patients ranges from 9 to 83, with 26 being the median.
While the hope is that this big increase in cases won’t correlate to a big increase in deaths, any uptick in the infection rate puts everyone at risk. Though rare, children and young adults have died from COVID-19. The more the virus spreads, the more likely younger Allegheny County residents will face severe illness or even death.