Pa. coronavirus update: Levine says commonwealth has hit COVID ‘plateau’

People line up outside a community center to take a free COVID-19 test

People line up outside a community center to take a free COVID-19 test, Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020, in Northeast Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

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After weathering a post-Thanksgiving spike in coronavirus cases, Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said Monday that the state has hit a “plateau and maybe even a slight decrease in our numbers.”

It’s too early to say for sure, Levine added. But it appears the state’s COVID surge may be waning.

“If everybody does the right thing — if everybody stands united and continues those mitigation measures and pretty much stays home during the holidays —  then things look much more hopeful for January,” said Levine at a Monday press conference.

Gov. Tom Wolf announced a new set of coronavirus restrictions on Dec. 10 that included the elimination of indoor dining, gym shutdowns, and a ban on indoor gatherings of more than 10 people. Those restrictions run at least through Jan. 4.

Pennsylvania announced 7,887 new COVID-19 cases on Monday and 7,887 confirmed cases on Sunday. Both numbers are still higher than any point during the pandemic before late November, but they are down from days in the past few weeks, when some daily case counts exceeded 12,000.

Officials worry, however, that travel during Christmas and New Year’s could lead to another case surge.

“Please stay home. Stay within your household. Speak to your family and friends through remote media,” Levine said. “And stay the course through this very challenging winter.”

Levine said the state has sufficient testing capacity to deal with a blitz of test requests before the holidays. Tests processed by national labs are generally taking a few days to produce results, she said.

“We continue to have robust testing capacity in Pennsylvania,” Levine said. “We’re getting, on average, approximately 70,000 test results per day.”

Still, Levine reiterated that officials are asking residents to forgo holiday travel plans rather than try to test and travel.

“We really want people, in general, to stay home for the holidays,” Levine said.

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