The first two COVID-19 cases in Allegheny County have been confirmed.
Both individuals are adults, one age 70-plus and the other 60 or older, and live in the same household in Pittsburgh
“Neither has been hospitalized, and both are currently in isolation at home. The individuals are both city residents who reside in the same household,” Dr. Debra Bogen, Allegheny County Health Department director, said. “It is believed that both acquired COVID-19 during out-of-state travel.”
Bogen, who was appointed to her position just this month, spoke as part of a live-streamed news conference Saturday afternoon. She said that her department has begun a contact investigation.
“Officials have and will continue to follow up with all individuals identified as close contact of the two known cases,” she reported. “While at this time no evidence of community spread in Allegheny County, the health department anticipates additional local cases in the coming days.”
The Pennsylvania Department of Health state laboratory has been performing testing for COVID-19, along with commercial laboratories.
“Up to this week, very few individuals were approved for testing at the state laboratory, given limited testing capacity and more stringent CDC guidance,” Bogen said, referencing the U.S. Centers for Disease and Prevention Control. “However, within the past few days, that guidance has been relaxed, and as a result the health department expects there will be expanded specimen-collection availability over the next week.
She continued to recommend various measures to help ensure public safety, including avoiding large gatherings and exercising proactive hygienic practices.
“If you have symptoms consistent with COVID-19 – which include fever, cough and shortness of breath – please stay at home and contact your primary care provider to determine if you need testing for COVID-19,” she said. “If you are considering going to an urgent-care center, an emergency department or your doctor’s office specifically for COVID-19 evaluation and testing, please call ahead to allow the staff at these locations to prepare for your arrival.”
During another press briefing on Saturday, Dr. Rachel Levine, state Secretary of Health, announced the confirmation of the Allegheny County cases and referenced social distancing as an essential factor in mitigating the spread of coronavirus.
Levine emphasized that residents take care of their mental health, along with their physical well-being, because this pandemic can be overwhelming for adults to process mentally and frightening to children.
Gov. Tom Wolf announced additional aggressive mitigation efforts in four southeastern Pennsylvania counties, including the strong encouragement of closing non-essential businesses.
“This is going to slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep Pennsylvanians safe," Wolf said, adding that the aim is to "flatten the curve" of infected populations.
“Flattening the curve” references strategies meant to provide a steady stream of patients over time rather than overwhelming healthcare systems all at once, depleting life-saving resources.
Wolf added that any alterations to the primary election April 28 are too far in the future to make at this time. A Bucks County special election, though, might be rescheduled. Special elections in the western part of the state are still set for Tuesday.
According to information presented at the meeting, 41 cases of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania had been presumed and six confirmed. Statewide, 402 patients have been tested so far, with 205 turning up negative. Awaiting testing are 150 samples.
Online editor Trista Thurston contributed to this story.