PA sees rising coronavirus rates, still awaiting Thanksgiving wave

Written By Jake Dabkowski, Co-News Editor

The state of Pennsylvania reported 14,960 new cases of COVID-19 infections on Monday, Dec. 7. These numbers were a report of new cases from testing that occurred over the weekend. 12,884 of the new cases were reported on Saturday. Numbers reported on Monday are usually lower than other days in the week, because testing is less frequent on weekends.

Some have speculated that the current spike is a result of people holding gatherings to celebrate Thanksgiving, but many health professionals have warned that that is not the case.

“I don’t think we’ve seen all of the Thanksgiving spike. We’re hitting that two week period now, and hospitalizations are a week behind. So I think that we will see more hospitalizations and cases that resulted from Thanksgiving,” Dr. Laura Frost, a biological sciences professor, said.

“The blip from Thanksgiving isn’t even here yet,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the lead members of the White House’s Coronavirus Task Force, stated at the Milkin Institute Future of Health Summit. “We’re getting those staggering numbers of new cases and hospitalizations before we even feel the full brunt of the Thanksgiving holiday.”

Many health experts expect that Christmas will cause the number of cases to go even higher.

“What we expect, unfortunately, as we go for the next couple of weeks into December, is that we might see a surge superimposed on the surge we are already in,” Dr. Fauci said in an interview on Sunday’s episode of “Meet the Press.”

“Transmission rates are so high right now I don’t think that any large gathering indoors is safe, and, because we’re in Southwestern Pennsylvania, every gathering right now is going to be indoors. I don’t think that this is the year to do parties and large family gatherings… if you’re having people come over who aren’t in your household, it doesn’t seem like an appropriate thing to do,” Dr. Frost said.

Some have expressed concerns that there are not enough people or businesses that are taking rising case numbers seriously.

“Whole Foods is handling it but not as best as they can,”  a local Whole Foods employee, who requested anonymity to ensure job security, said.. “We have not received hazard pay since about the end of July.”

“While working I’ve had one or two instance where people say ‘take off your mask, it’s fine, you can breathe, but I can breathe… I’m worried about coronavirus because I have severe asthma, so I’m going to take whatever precautions I can,” Zachary Strennen, who is currently taking a semester off of school due to COVID-19 related concerns, said.

Multiple pharmaceutical companies, including Pfizer, have stated that they are nearing completion on vaccine development. Many health experts believe that the pandemic will not end until the vaccine is widely available.

“I doubt we are going to see anything dramatic until we see a vaccine that is widely available,” Dr. Frost said. “We should be smart enough to wear masks. We should all do it because it is the right thing to do.”