The state now totals 80,236 cases of COVID-19. The one-day increase of 418 is the highest daily count this week.
However, it is, so far, not enough to reverse the long overall decline in the rate of new cases, which Gov. Tom Wolf highlighted this week as other states see infections surge.
The Pennsylvania COVID-19 death toll also rose by 42 to 6,361.
Meanwhile, the state health secretary, Dr. Rachel Levine, is encouraging the estimated 76% of patients who have recovered from the coronavirus to donate plasma so their antibodies can help others still fighting the pandemic virus.
These are your Pennsylvania coronavirus updates for June 18, 2020.
8 counties enter green phase on Friday
By 12:01 a.m. Friday, eight more counties, including two adjacent to the Lehigh Valley, will enter the green phase of reopening. They are: Dauphin, Franklin, Huntingdon, Luzerne, Monroe, Perry, Pike, and Schuylkill.
That leaves just 13 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties in the yellow phase, a list that includes the Lehigh Valley and Philadelphia suburbs. The Wolf administration will announce on Friday if any more will enter the green phase next week.
The green phase allows some businesses to restart, but it is not a complete reopening and life will not be what it was before the pandemic.
Masks and social distancing are still required, and places like bars and restaurants must still make adjustments to keep patrons separated and safe. Crowds of more than 250 people are prohibited, so professional sports teams for now will be playing without an audience and large events like Musikfest 2020 are going virtual.
Still being determined is what a post-green phase may look like.
Coronavirus in Pa.
Thursday was the first time in five days that Pennsylvania recorded more than 400 new coronavirus cases in a day.
However, the seven-day average of cases, which measures the rate of new infections, continues to drop. The federal Centers for Disease Control has Pennsylvania as one of only three states, with Montana and Hawaii, that have seen a downward trend in cases for more than 42 days, a fact Wolf touted in a news conference on Wednesday.
“We know our decline is real because of the choices we’ve made,” Wolf said, noting other states are seeing the opposite. Several states this week set daily case records as they reopen, according to Johns Hopkins University.
In Pennsylvania, the majority of hospitalizations and deaths have been in residents 65 and older, according to the state health department. As of Thursday, residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities account for 16,850 cases – 21% of the state’s total case count – and 4,332 deaths, or 68% of Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 death toll.
Of Pennsylvania’s 80,236 cases, 6,092, or 7.5%, have been in health care workers, the health department reports.
The state estimates 76% of coronavirus patients statewide have recovered. At least 543,832 tests have come back negative.
Coronavirus in the Lehigh Valley
As of Thursday, the Lehigh Valley totaled 7,267 cases of COVID-19 and 525 deaths, an increase of 34 cases and five deaths in the last day, according to the state’s figures.
The overall breakdown by county:
The seven-day average of new cases in each county has hovered in the low teens for about two weeks now, a good sign among the metrics used to determine when counties can enter the green phase.
The health department also reported more COVID-19 deaths in some nearby counties:
- Berks County has two more deaths, 342 total.
- Bucks County had three more deaths, 549 total.
- Montgomery County had three more deaths, 773 total.
COVID-19 survivors called to donate plasma
Levine this week called on those who have recovered from COVID-19 to donate blood plasma.
Plasma, the liquid component of blood, contains antibodies from the infection that could be used by current patients, Levine said.
Miller-Keystone Blood Center, which serves 12 counties including the Lehigh Valley, is taking donations by appointment, which can be scheduled on its website, giveapint.org.
Steve Novak may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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