The Morning Call
Hospitalizations climb to record 3,162
Lehigh County new cases reach highest level yet as virus surges
HARRISBURG — The state reported 6,808 more cases of the coronavirus on Friday as the number of people hospitalized with the diseases urges to its highest point ever, with 3,162 in the hospital.
The newly reported cases bring the statewide total to 295,786 and include 270 from Lehigh County and 161 from Northampton County.
The Lehigh County figure was the highest of the pandemic.
The state also reported more than 100 deaths from COVID-19 for the third straight day, with 108 on Friday. The state has now recorded a total of 9,689 deaths from the virus. Two additional deaths were reported in Northampton County, bringing the overall Lehigh Valley total to 702.
The seven-day moving average of newly reported cases was 5,914 on Friday, up 36% from 4,348 a week ago.
The report came one day after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued sweeping guidance with suggested limits on Thanksgiving travel, gatherings, meal handling and personal spacing.
Pennsylvania Republican state Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill of York County, wearing a mask Friday morning outside the state Capitol
in Harrisburg, said this would be the first Thanksgiving in decades where she was not personally with her 81-year-old father, who has a serious health issue.
“I love him and I want to keep him safe ,” she said .“I am encouraging everyone to be as responsible as they can.”
Republican Rep. Doyle Heffley of Carbon County said a key is to keep the economy open while acting with personal responsibility.
“Don’ t let the virus control every aspect of your life,” hesaid. “Butat the same time, respect it.”
Government virus guidance and restrictions and especially mask-wearing continued to be a major topic of conversation in many places. On the floor of the Pennsylvania House late Thursday, as lawmakers debated an unrelated, pressing issue, some chastised others for not wearing masks.
Then, late Friday, as the House and Senate were preparing for final votes on the state budget, the House floor was closed. Berks County Republican state Rep. Mark Gillen said most lawmakers assumed it was “COVID-related.”
Democratic state Rep. Mike Schlossberg said those who don’t wear masks are jeopardizing the health of colleagues in the Capitol and manyothers.
“These people have got to realize that this isn’t going away,” Schlossberg said.
House Speaker Bryan Cutler on Thursday intervened in a verbal back-and-forth on the House floor over members who were not wearing masks. Cutler said lawmakers with issues should go to an already-established bipartisan management council that sets mask policies that pertain to House members.
Also on Friday, Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said the federal government would distribute monoclonal antibodies which are proteins built in a laboratory that mimic the immune system’s ability to fight infections like the COVID-19 virus to health care systems in Pennsylvania.
“The department will determine which health care systems receive allocations based upon county case counts,” Levine said.
The state Health Department earlier this week announced new measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Pfizer said Friday it is asking U.S. regulators to allow emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine, starting the clock on a process that could bring limited first shots as early as next month.