Allegheny County suggests COVID testing triage, as UPMC seeks vaccine trial volunteers

by PublicSource Reporters

The Allegheny County Department of Health [ACHD] reported 140 new COVID-19 infections Thursday, bringing the total case count since March 14 to 5,750 cases.

ACHD also reported one additional COVID-related fatalities and 12 new hospitalizations. To date, there have been 205 deaths and 490 past and present hospitalizations.

While the COVID-related fatalities range from 23 to 103 years old with the median age being 84, the most recent deaths are among those aged between 77 and 91, county health officials said.

Following more than two weeks of some of the county’s highest reported daily infection increases and troubling delays in test results, particularly at commercial labs, ACHD Director Dr. Debra Bogen Wednesday provided new guidance on who should prioritize getting tested:

  •     Patients with symptoms (fever, cough, etc.)
  •     Those who have had close contact with someone who has tested COVID-positive
  •     Healthcare workers and first responders with known exposure or who have traveled to high-risk areas
  •     Adults without symptoms with suspected exposure that cannot quarantine.

Earlier, Bogen told the county Board of Health Wednesday that her department is carefully watching the development of COVID-19 cases in younger and younger populations.

“We have cases down to 1 month of age,” Bogen told the board at their monthly meeting. “Those children are not being hospitalized and are not very ill from my understanding, but the fact is they are testing positive. Early in the pandemic we didn’t have children testing positive.”

She said the department is consulting with schools on their options — reopening, continuing to educate online, or a mix of both — but isn’t dictating any given solution.

Bogen, who has adjusted restrictions on restaurants and bars as case counts have surged by more than 200 on some days, said that typically it takes weeks to a month to see case counts respond to new rules.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health [DOH] reported 781 infections and 16 fatalities Thursday, bringing the statewide tally to 98,446 and 6,973 deaths.

The 140 cases Allegheny announced Thursday eclipsed the 132 infections Philadelphia County reported.

Judy Martin, M.D., director of the Pittsburgh Vaccine Clinical Trials Unit at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and professor of pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh, speaks at a press conference on July 15, 2020 (Screenshot)

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Allegheny County suggests COVID testing triage, as UPMC seeks vaccine trial volunteers

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