Pa. coronavirus cases remain high, but trending downward

Close up of a dictionary word

Close up of a dictionary word "unemployment" (Courtesy of Bigstock)

Pennsylvania reported 8,992 new cases of COVID-19 as of 12:00 a.m. on Thursday. The statewide case total since the start of the pandemic is now 640,325.

As of Thursday, there were 5,962 people hospitalized due to the coronavirus, with 1,178 in intensive care. As of Wednesday night, the commonwealth says it has tracked 306 new deaths, for a total of 15,978 lives lost to COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

That hospitalization rate is now almost double the previous peak from spring. However, state officials also note that new case rates have fallen, from over 10,000 a day just recently.

In other words, though coronavirus cases remain relatively high, they’re lately trending downward.

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Governor Tom Wolf has said he thinks new mitigation efforts, like an indoor dining ban, have worked. He plans to lift them on January 4.

Vaccines are being distributed to health care workers around the commonwealth, though progress has been slower than the state hoped due to a range of logistical issues.

The state has only gotten about half of the vaccines it was promised from the federal government, and has only managed to administer about half of the ones it did get.

Unemployment numbers remain historically high

Last week, the week of Christmas, brought a slight dip in the numbers of Americans newly filing for unemployment insurance.

But the numbers register as a dip only because 2020 has been a year marked by such massive job loss and instability for workers. All told, more than 800,000 people filed initial claims for benefits between Dec. 19 and 26.

In the same week last year, that number was just over 300,000.

Pennsylvania has topped the list for new unemployment claims in recent weeks.

In the week that ended Dec. 19, the commonwealth had the largest increases in initial claims of any state, with 8,047.

It also had the eighth-highest insured unemployment rate for the week that ended Dec. 12, with 5.8%.

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