COVID Cases in Pittsburgh Are Surging
By: Charles Xue
Recently, Allegheny County, which includes Pittsburgh, has been experiencing a surge in cases after reopening. In fact, there have been more cases in the last few weeks than the last few months combined.
A few weeks ago, Pittsburgh celebrated a major victory over COVID-19. A day had gone by with no new cases. Following this victory, Allegheny County reopened its bars, restaurants, hair salons, and much more.
On June 30, Allegheny County recorded 100 new cases. Two days later, the cases had more than doubled. In the last few days, the cases in Allegheny County made up about half of the cases in Pennsylvania.
In response to the rapidly mounting cases, Governor Wolf issued a statewide mask order. Five days ago, health officials banned indoor dining for at least two more weeks.
The story of Pittsburgh serves as a cautionary tale. Even after months of vigilance, an outbreak can still happen.
“You have to realize: The virus isn’t going to go anywhere until there is a vaccine,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, a Pittsburgh-based physician and a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security. “You are going to see these flare-ups in any city, because wherever there are people, there is this virus.”
When the threat of coronavirus first emerged, Pittsburgh’s officials took it seriously, ordering a strict city-wide lockdown spanning from March to June. Pittsburgh’s citizens remained diligent throughout the lockdown, but once it ended, people flocked to bars and restaurants like moths to a flame.
“It was almost like the entire city turned 21,” said Dr. Adalja, who said that he took walks past crowded bars that he suspected would turn into hot spots.
Once officials found that bars and restaurants were the epicenter of the new cases, they shut down indoor dining.
“We did all this work, we did everything we were supposed to do and we were seeing results.” said Jamie Patten, the owner of a wine bar. “Now it’s all just kind of swept away.”
Now, officials are trying a more targeted approach to reopening. For example, gyms and hair salons can stay open, but restaurants and bars will remain closed until further notice.