PHILADELPHIA (CBS/AP) — There are now nearly 30,000 COVID-19 cases in Pennsylvania as the death toll climbs toward 900. Health officials reported 1,706 new cases on Friday, bringing the statewide total to 29,441.

Forty-nine more people have died from the coronavirus, raising the death toll to 884. Nearly 400 of the deaths have occurred in residents in nursing homes or personal care facilities.

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“COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to rise in Pennsylvania, and even though the daily increases are not exponential, now is not the time to become complacent,” Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said. “We must continue to stay home to protect ourselves, our families, our community. If you must go out, please make as few trips as possible and wear a mask to protect not only yourself, but other people as well. We need all Pennsylvanians to continue to heed these efforts to protect our vulnerable Pennsylvanians, our health care workers and frontline responders.”

Over 117,000 patients have tested negative for the virus.

Meanwhile, the commonwealth’s unemployment rate zoomed upwards in March to its highest point since 2014 as the effects of Gov. Tom Wolf’s coronavirus-related business shutdown and stay-at-home orders began to be felt, according to figures released Friday.

Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate shot up to 6%, up from 4.7% in February, the state Department of Labor and Industry said.

The national rate was 4.4% in March. But unemployment surveys were conducted well before the full force of the shutdowns took effect, resulting in more than 1.4 million Pennsylvanians filing for unemployment benefits since March 15, or nearly one in four workers.

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Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate last year hit a nearly two-decade low of 4.1%.

A separate survey of households found Pennsylvania’s civilian labor force fell by 19,000, just a month after hitting a new record above 6.5 million. Employment fell by 104,000 while unemployment rose by 85,000.


A separate survey of employers showed seasonally adjusted non-farm payrolls fell by 40,000 in March, below 6.1 million after hitting record levels earlier this year. That wiped out eight months of gains.

Hardest hit was the leisure and hospitality sector, off by 17,000. Financial activities grew slightly, the only sector to expand.

Friday’s figures are preliminary and could change.

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