As Allegheny County coronavirus cases approach 700, Pittsburgh-area hospitals look to conserve, possibly reuse masks

by PublicSource reporters

As the region braces for more coronavirus cases, its major health systems said they are ready to protect the employees that will be on the front lines — even if it means exploring unusual means of preserving the supply of crucial N95 respirators that block the transmission of the disease from patient to healer.

Allegheny County reported 47 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and two new deaths on Tuesday, April 7. The county has had a total of 101 hospitalizations, past and present, for the illness caused by the new coronavirus.

All of the deceased have been in their 60s or above, according to the county’s daily update. Still, more than half of known infections in the county are in people below age 50.

The county reported that it lacks full demographic data on many of the cases; for instance, it has information on the race of fewer than half of the people confirmed to have the virus.

Statewide, cases jumped by 1,579, to 14,669. Deaths surged by 78 — a leap of nearly 50%, taking the state’s toll to 240. Beaver County has Western Pennsylvania’s grimmest death tally, at nine since the pandemic arrived.

Elsewhere in the world and in the United States, spikes in COVID-19 infections have left healthcare workers pleading for equipment to protect them from inhaling the tiny airborne particles or aerosols that transport the virus.

On Monday, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s southwestern Pennsylvania hospitals were treating 45 inpatients with COVID-19. Allegheny Health Network reported 22 patients.

Medical staff at the Allegheny Health Network drive-thru clinic in Wexford, Pa., screen a person for COVID-19 on March 18. (Photo by Nick Childers/PublicSource)

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