Coronavirus numbers trending in the wrong direction

On bright side, hospitals are far from overwhelmed

  • Russ Walker/PA Post
Sunday was the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which bars discrimination against diabled Americans in the workplace and at school, as well as in  transportation and all places open to the general public. To mark the anniversary, PublicSource and Unabridged Press assembled an in-depth look at how the ADA affected lives in Pittsburgh — view it at TribLive, meanwhile, reminds us that Pennsylvania’s own Dick Thornburgh was there for the signing and played a major role in shaping how the law’s provision would be applied in practice. — Russ Walker, PA Post editor

Courtesy Gov. Tom Wolf's Flickr page

Lancaster Health Center employees watching through a window on Friday, July 24, 2020, as Gov. Tom Wolf visited to speak about the need to ensure the community’s most vulnerable receive care during COVID-19 and year-round. (Image via Gov. Wolf’s Flickr page)

800. 1,054. 1,213. 962. 631. 1,027. 711. 786.

Those are the number of newly confirmed COVID-19 infections in Pennsylvania over the past seven days, starting with the 800 reported yesterday.

The numbers have been trending higher since June 7, when the state Health Department recorded a low of 304 new infections.

As of Sunday, Pennsylvania had recorded over 104,000 confirmed infections and another 3,000 probable cases. The total number of deaths stands at 7,118.

The only good news in the numbers is that while deaths continue to happen, fewer are being recorded now than during May and June. That’s because doctors are getting better at treating cases, and also because a larger number of younger people are becoming infected.

Hospitalizations are going up in Allegheny County and much of the rest of Southwest Pa., the state’s hotspot for these days in terms of new infections. But hospitals in the region are not in any danger of being overwhelmed, at least so far, according to this story from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Still, the virus has brought tragedy to so many. In another Post-Gazette story, we meet the Perkins family of South Fayette, who have experienced two COVID-19 deaths and six other infections.

Seventy percent of Pa.’s COVID-19 deaths occurred in long-term-care facilities. Despite efforts to send more resources to nursing homes and other facilities, the people who run them say they aren’t getting enough help. “We have providers, whether it’s nursing homes, personal care homes, or assisted living communities, who have been the frontlines of this pandemic from day one, who have worked day and night to keep the residents safe, to keep their staff safe. And it feels like no matter what they do, they’re not being heard in state government and sometimes in federal government,” Zach Shamberg of the Pennsylvania Health Care Association told WLVR. Nationally, the long-term-care industry says it needs $100 billion to help defray the added costs of caring for and protecting their residents.

Over in Centre County, where case counts ticked up over the weekend, researchers are getting ready for the return of thousands of students to Penn State’s main campus. They plan to study how the influx of students affects everything from virus precautions to business activity. “The project will allow the university to study itself and its wider community, with the hope of gathering information that will help inform decisions during this and future pandemics. As part of it, Penn State plans to begin testing local residents for antibodies to the virus by Aug. 1,” The Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

Bottom line: The virus is still circulating in Pennsylvania and across the country. The best thing we can all do to end this mess is WEAR A MASK!

Best of the rest

Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden, center, listens to McGregor Industries owner Bob McGregor, right, give a tour of the metal fabricating facility, Thursday, July 9, 2020, in Dunmore, Pa.

Matt Slocum / AP Photo

Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden, center, listens to McGregor Industries owner Bob McGregor, right, give a tour of the metal fabricating facility, Thursday, July 9, 2020, in Dunmore, Pa.

  • Joe Biden is leading President Trump by such a wide margin in Pennsylvania that some observers are saying the presumptive Democratic nominee has the state in the bag. But The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Democrats aren’t taking the state for granted, and Republicans are confident that their voters will turn out on Election Day. “The state of the race is good,” said Ted Christian, senior adviser to the Trump campaign in Pennsylvania. “We really made an unprecedented investment and have an organization that’s unparalleled. As someone that was around four years ago, I can definitely vouch for that.”

  • Sen. Bob Casey Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers President Nina Esposito-Vigitis are participating in a Biden campaign forum tomorrow on the topic of safely reopening Pa.’s schools. Details here

  • Biden, of course, makes a big deal about growing up in Scranton, and Hillary Clinton made her own claim to the city in 2016. So what’s the big deal about Scranton? The Washington Post tries to answer that question in this story by Karen Heller. The Post produced a short video to accompany Heller’s piece, which you can watch here.

  • Elected officials and leaders in Philadelphia’s Jewish community decried a Facebook post by Rodney Muhammad, Philly’s NAACP president. The post, ostensibly in support of Eagles player DeSean Jackson (who made anti-Semitic remarks earlier this month), contained an overtly anti-Semitic cartoon. Sen. Bob Casey took to Twitter to condemn Muhammad’s tweet, as did Reps. Dwight Evans and Brian Fitzpatrick, as well as state Sen. Sharif Street. More here from The Philadelphia Inquirer.

  • WHYY’s Katie Meyer has a deep dive into a story mentioned in The Context last week — accusations of racism made by a former Pa. Supreme Court justice against the court’s current chief. There’s a backstory to the accusation. Read Katie’s story.

  • Gov. Wolf said he didn’t support a transparency bill that passed the legislature unanimously this month. That bill requires state agencies to process Right to Know requests, even during emergencies like the coronavirus epidemic. Wolf said the bill potentially put state workers at risk. On Sunday evening, however, Wolf said he’d let the bill become law, despite his continuing concerns (which he detailed in a lengthy statement). Score one for transparency! But at least one Wolf ally, his former spokesman, took to Twitter to blast the “hypocrisy” of the legislature’s GOP majority and questioned whether the media would hold Republicans to the same standard.

  • Hoping to build a new deck this summer? Better get ready to wait. There’s a big shortage of pressure-treated lumber in the United States, thanks to the coronavirus epidemic closing the border with Canada, where most of that lumber comes from. has more.

Will schools reopen this fall?

The CDC issued back-to-school guidance last week, stressing the importance of starting the regular school year with in-person classes. But President Trump himself cautioned school districts to base their decision on the level of coronavirus infections in their communities.

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