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COVID-19 cases in Pa. break 2,000, 6 new deaths

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch

There are now 2,218 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and six new virus-related deaths in Pennsylvania, continuing the steep upward trajectory, the state Department of Health reported at noon Friday.

There were 531 new positive tests from the day before as expanded testing capabilities continue to uncover cases at an increased rate. The death toll in the state is now up to 22, the department's release states.

York County, one of 50 counties with confirmed cases, reported eight new cases, bringing the total up to 29 since the outbreak began. There have been no reported virus-related deaths.

Although the elderly are said to be more at risk of infection, new age data provided by the state show that at least 53% of all confirmed cases are individuals under the age of 49.

Those under the age of 49 also comprise about 25% of the total number of individuals who are hospitalized due to the virus.

More:York County business tied to Gov. Tom Wolf closed after questions

More:York City clamps down on playgrounds, skate parks

Severe spikes in coronavirus cases nationwide have caused concern that hospitals won't have enough beds and resources to handle patients, particularly in New York City, which has become the outbreak's epicenter in the U.S.

Researchers at the Harvard Global Health Institute have estimated that if Americans act quickly to mitigate the spread, the infection rate among adults could remain around 20%, reported ProPublica.

Under that model, hospitals in the York region would need to nearly double the number of beds to handle patients if that infection rate was spread over the next six months —and that's the best case scenario, according to the researchers.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has taken steps ahead of that potential fate, on Friday signing legislation boosting funding for health care facilities by $50 million.

Meanwhile, schools across the state are slated to be closed until early April, and an increasing number of counties hardest-hit by COVID-19 are on “stay-at-home” orders issued by Wolf over the past week.

Those counties are Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Erie, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton and Philadelphia.

The Pennsylvania State Police and York City officials also continue to enforce Wolf’s order to close all "non-life-sustaining" businesses, which he issued last week.

The move prompted a spike in unemployment claims, a nationwide trend exemplifying widespread economic fallout as states attempt to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

WellSpan's second drive-thru coronavirus testing site in York County is open at the York Expo Center, Friday, March 20, 2020. Dawn J. Sagert photo

The state Department of Labor and Industry has received 650,000 unemployment claims since March 15 alone, according to officials.

As of Friday, there had been 553,000 known cases of coronavirus worldwide, killing more than 25,000, according to Johns Hopkins University.

More than 86,000 cases had been confirmed in the U.S. — the most confirmed cases our of any other country in the world — with the death toll exceeding 1,300.

— Logan Hullinger can be reached at lhullinger@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.