HARRISBURG - The number of daily coronavirus infections in Pennsylvania reached a staggering new high on Saturday as state health officials announced more than 12,800 new positive test results.
Pennsylvania noted that more than 1,000 of the 5,230 people currently in state hospitals with coronavirus are in intensive care. Most of the patients who are gravely ill are over the age of 65, according to health officials.
Pennsylvania's death toll grew by 149 on Saturday, which pushed the overall number of virus-attributed fatalities in the state to 11,262. More than half of the state's deaths have occurred in nursing homes and long-term care facilities, according to the latest data.
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These alarming statistics come days after Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine expressed concern about state hospitals being pushed to the limit before an anticipated spike in Thanksgiving infections.
Levine said Thursday she’s worried about modeling that shows the state will run out of intensive care beds this month. More than 85% of the state’s ICU beds are occupied amid an enormous statewide spike in COVID-19 hospitalizations this fall.
The health secretary added that she’s even more concerned about hospital staffing. While medical-surgical beds can be converted into ICU beds, the supply of medical workers is “not infinite.”
“Hospitals have the ability to divert staff from one area to another, and hospitals can share staff if they absolutely have to as well,” Levine said. “But there is a point where that is straining the health care system ... I hear from physicians and from hospital leadership all the time about how strained the hospitals are.”
While not immune to the virus, younger demographics have made up a small number of Pennsylvania's 411,484 total positives. Children ages 0-4 account for 1% of all cases, while children ages 5-12 own a 3% share.
The age bracket that covers teenagers has amassed only 5% of all cases. And young adults ages 19-24 have tracked at 12% of the cumulative total, despite reported increases across the state from health officials.
The broadest age group reported by the state covers ages 25-49 and subsequently owns the largest number of cases at 37%. Meanwhile, the demographics near and included in the CDC's high-risk populations make up nearly half of the entire state total.
With hospitalizations rising and the crest of the second wave unreached, state health officials are urging Pennsylvanians to take mitigation efforts seriously. Hand washing, social distancing and mask-wearing have been the tenants of Pennsylvania's coronavirus response for months. The state recently put extra emphasis on testing requirements for interstate travel and mask-wearing when home with people from outside your household.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
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