'Cases are up immensely': Philadelphia Health Commissioner urges testing ahead of holiday season

As COVID-19 case counts continue to rise, Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole urged testing and reminded people to take as many precautions as possible ahead of the holiday season. 

People have been scrambling to get their hands on COVID-19 testing, and the city has responded by providing free at-home tests to residents. Demand has been so high that around the city at free COVID-19 testing sites, they've been running out of kits. 

Dr. Cheryl Bettigole says the fact that people are trying to get tested and are getting vaccinated is something to celebrate.

"There is good news here. People are trying to get tested and people are getting vaccinated. The numbers are higher than we've seen in a while," Bettigole explained. 

She cautioned though that supplies are limited, but hopes there will be federal government intervention to make testing more readily available. 

However, Bettigole admitted that the city is trying to get more tests as there is a very limited quantity. 


"I will say this, tests tell you that you have COVID so they're great to use before you see someone at high risk. They don't prevent you from getting COVID, so we all need to be thinking about other ways to be keeping ourselves and our families safe," she said. 

"Cases are up immensely, so we are averaging 641 cases a day. Yesterday, the 24-hour report was over 1,000 cases. So this is definitely a time when we all need to be very, very cautious," Dr. Bettigole stated. 

She stressed testing before seeing someone who is potentially at high risk and also reminded that is important to keep holiday gatherings small. For those who aren't vaccinated, she said masking is extremely important for being indoors and perhaps consider avoiding indoor events. 

Last week, Bettigole responded to increased case counts by urging residents to avoid gathering with members of other households over the holidays. 

Bettigole and Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney have said that the city is doing everything in its power to ensure that the city's businesses and schools will remain open. She said it's very important that students stay in school and that schools are supported during the pandemic.

Earlier this month, the city announced they would be implementing a vaccine mandate for indoor dining establishments that is set to begin on Jan. 3. 

Depending on your resources, there are various options open to citizens of Philadelphia, Dr. Bettigole reminded. She said testing can be done at different centers if an at-home kit isn't a possibility for you.

She said it's important to test as close as possible to the date of your event as possible because it'll give more security.



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