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Health secretary: Pennsylvania at critical point in pandemic

HARRISBURG (AP) — As new coronavirus cases explode, Pennsylvania’s top health official on Monday warned the state is at a “critical point” in the pandemic and begged recalcitrant residents to wear masks, avoid congregating and take other simple preventative measures to slow the spread.

Infections, hospitalizations and the percentage of virus tests coming back positive continue to climb sharply, according to state data reported Monday, indicating the virus is spreading more rapidly than at any point since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

No region of Pennsylvania has been spared, with 38 of 67 counties reporting substantial levels of community transmission.

“COVID-19 is right here and we are at a critical point,” the state health secretary, Dr. Rachel Levine, said at a news conference in Harrisburg. “We all need to take steps to prevent the spread of this virus and if we don’t, we put ourselves, our families, and our communities and our health systems at risk.”

Pennsylvania has reported 6,311 new virus cases over the past 48 hours. Cases are up more than 70% in the past two weeks, and the state now has an average of nearly 3,000 new cases per day, according to The COVID Tracking Project.

The positivity rate has risen 40% in two weeks, according to The COVID Tracking Project. And the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 stood at 1,735 on Monday, up from 1,267 a week ago, said Levine, providing what she called a “sobering look at our current reality.”

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