PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The state of Pennsylvania has reached another record-high number of COVID-19 cases. This comes as Philadelphia officials warned new restrictions could be coming because of surging cases.
One encouraging sign is that deaths from COVID-19 are decreasing because of improved treatments, but on Tuesday, there was a grim forecast from Philadelphia’s health commissioner.
“The virus is now spreading rapidly in households, at family gatherings, social gatherings, maybe in the workplace, maybe in restaurants,” Dr. Thomas Farley said.
Philadelphia is averaging 296 new cases of COVID-19 a day and the positivity rate is now at 7.2%, meaning there’s a hazardous level of community spread.
“We anticipate further rapid increases of this infection in Philadelphia, which means we’re entering a difficult, dangerous period of this epidemic, possibly the worst period of the entire epidemic,” Farley said.
The health commissioner says the virus is now spreading in every neighborhood among all ages and races.
Officials believe the COVID peak will come in February, and are now considering imposing new restrictions but the health commissioner didn’t say what or when. He said in-school learning can continue for students.
“We’ve had no additional school cluster where it’s clear the spread occurred in the classroom,” Farley said.
In the state of Pennsylvania, 2,751 new coronavirus cases were reported on Tuesday, the highest single-day number since the pandemic started.
“The risk is increasing now with colder and drier weather, more people indoors,” said Farley.
The commissioner says holiday plans should be canceled and people should stay home as much as possible and not socialize.
“We are recommending that people cancel their planned family holiday gatherings. We are not going to get past this epidemic by Thanksgiving, by Hanukkah, or by Christmas,” Farley said.
Last week, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy discouraged planning holiday gatherings that involve anyone beyond people who already live together.
Meanwhile, the situation in Delaware is not as dire.
“We’re a little bit higher than where we want to be but certainly not as bad as many states,” Gov. John Carney said.
Delaware has experienced a slight uptick and is now averaging 132 new cases a day.
“We’re just seeing higher numbers geographically across the state,” Carney said.
No direct recommendation to put the holidays on hold was made during Gov. Carney’s Tuesday address but he did credit the state’s uptick to “kind of informal gatherings, social gatherings that people let their guard down a little bit, they’re not wearing their masks.”
Also from Philadelphia today, contact tracing can’t track all the cases, so now people who test positive are being encouraged to do their own outreach to people they have had close contact with.
CBS3’s Stephanie Stahl and Alexandria Hoff contributed to this report.
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