HARRISBURG, PA — Coronavirus cases continue to rise in many parts of Pennsylvania, with Allegheny County and Philadelphia reporting significant overnight increases. Health officials are pointing to an alarming trend: More and more people in their 20s are contracting the virus through travel, parties, and at bars.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health on Wednesday confirmed 849 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 92,148. Twenty-five new deaths were also reported.
State officials say they're seeing "significant increases" in the number of COVID-19 cases among younger age groups, particularly those 19 to 24. The developments have caused some counties, including Allegheny and Beaver, to once again close bars and restaurants.
People in their 20s now make up more than 13,700 of Pennsylvania's cases. More than 13,800 people in their 30s have also tested positive.
And while the virus doesn't typically have life-threatening impacts on that age bracket, the trend is concerning, experts say. The long-term effects from the virus remain unknown, and the younger, healthy people risk spreading the virus to the vulnerable.
State health officials recently issued an alert to health care providers regarding the situation of the virus's spread in young people.
"While serious outcomes are most commonly seen in patients with comorbidities (e.g., obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, cancer), patients without underlying medical conditions are also at risk for severe outcomes," the alert said. "Studies from China suggest that patients with COVID-19 with no reported underlying medical conditions had an overall case fatality of 0.9 percent."
Of Pennsylvania's deaths, 20 have occurred among those in their 30s. The number of 20-somethings killed by the virus is so small it doesn't register on the state's own data map. Patch has reached out to the Pennsylvania Health Department for specifics.
The increase in cases continues to be most drastic in Allegheny County, where 230 new infections and two new deaths were reported Wednesday
The Southwest region of the state has also seen the most dramatic increases in coronavirus cases among young people 19 to 24 years old. There, residents in that age bracket made up about 5 percent of cases in April. They now make up 28 percent of cases so far this month.
The state's health alert warned providers who are evaluating patients for COVID-19 should instruct them to isolate while awaiting test results.
"Patients should be asked to develop a list of people who were in close contact (defined as being within 6 feet for a period of 15 minutes or more depending upon the exposure) with them from the period 48 hours before symptom onset or test date for asymptomatic persons to the time at which the patient isolated," the alert said.
In Bucks County, where more than 100 new cases were reported Tuesday, health officials say more than half of the new cases were traced to out-of-state travel. Many of the new cases included travelers to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Bucks County health officials said.
More than 131,000 Americans have died from the virus, which is experiencing a rapid uptick in the Southern states of Florida, South Carolina and Texas.