Allegheny County reports near-record number of infections as border counties deal with surges

Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine speaks at a coronavirus press conference. (Office of Gov. Tom Wolf)

Pittsburgh and the rest of Allegheny County reported a near-record number of new coronavirus infections Wednesday as border counties, which are dealing with their own surges, braced for the possibility that state health officials will reimpose pandemic restrictions in an effort to contain the spread.

The Allegheny County Health Department reported 230 additional people tested positive for the virus between June 23 and July 5. Allegheny has been struggling with a spike in infections as residents patronize eating and drinking establishments and head to out-of-state virus hotspots, prompting health officials in the county of 1.2 million to impose restrictions on restaurants and bars, shutter a casino and limit gatherings.

Infections are also rising precipitously in border counties like Beaver, Butler, Washington and Westmoreland, and Pennsylvania’s health secretary, Dr. Rachel Levine, has signaled that mitigation measures are on the way, according to local officials who spoke with her.

“They told us an order was coming today,” Leslie Osche, GOP chairperson of the Butler County Board of Commissioners, said Wednesday. “We nave no authority to close anything, nor would we, but that would be the expectation, an order will come today of some sort.”

An email was sent to the state Health Department seeking comment.

Butler and Washington are among the plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit, filed in May and still pending, that challenged the constitutionality of Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s statewide shutdown of businesses deemed “non-life-sustaining.” Wolf has since lifted many restrictions, and courts have consistently rejected challenges to his power to order businesses to close during the pandemic.




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