By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — With coronavirus cases rising, the Philadelphia Health Department says this could be the worst period of the pandemic so far. COVID-19 cases reached all-time highs in many locations, including Philadelphia and Pennsylvania.

On Tuesday, Pennsylvania reported more than 4,300 new cases and 92 deaths, while there were 879 new coronavirus cases in Philadelphia, including an additional 12 deaths.

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Officials are becoming increasingly concerned about virus fatigue as not enough people are taking precautions.

Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley says a growing number of people are not wearing masks, which is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“Our case counts are hitting all-time highs here in Philadelphia as they are in the rest of the United States,” Farley said. “No question we are in a dangerous period in the coronavirus epidemic.”

Farley says in spite of all the warnings and dire predictions, COVID-19 continues spreading. Philadelphia hit a one-day record of 879 cases.

“We don’t have any restrictions to announce today, but we want everyone to be prepared in case we have to put those restrictions in place,” Farley said. “These are tough decisions. What we want to do is do the minimum amount of restrictions that would work. We really want to change the trajectory of this epidemic but we don’t want to be so heavy-handed.”

Farley says restrictions are difficult because the virus has been spreading mainly in private settings and at social gatherings. However, a new trend has emerged.

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“We’re also seeing evidence from our contact tracing of it being spread in office-type work places as well as in restaurants,” Farley said.

It’s a similar scene statewide as Pennsylvania is now averaging over 3,400 new cases a day, which is at record levels. Hospital cases are also increasing.

“We know this has been a tough eight months for everyone in this epidemic and I know that everyone is tired of this virus. Unfortunately, the virus is not tired of us,” Farley said. “So we all need to step up our safety precautions now, just a little bit longer, until the vaccine arrives to protect us.”

Farley again cautioned against making plans for Thanksgiving. He said the only safe way to celebrate is with people in your household.

He again urged anyone who was in a large group over the weekend to quarantine and be tested at the end of the week.


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Stephanie Stahl