Pediatricians with the American Academy of Pediatrics and a child advocacy organization are weighing in on the importance of wearing masks for all, including children older than two. This guidance mirrors that of Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine as a required mitigation effort to stop the spread of COVID-19 in the state.
“We saw cases rise recently in Allegheny County and due to all of us wearing masks, practicing physical distancing and hand hygiene cases are coming back down,” said William Keough, MD, MSc, FAA, Co-Chair, PA Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics, Advocacy Committee, Medical Director, UPMC Health Plan. “For everyone over 2 years of age, wearing a face covering when outside your home along with hand and cough hygiene and physical distancing are decades old, scientifically proven ways to slow the spread of infection. Please, for the health of everyone, do your part to slow the spread of this deadly virus.”
“A recent brief communication in the scientific journal Nature reviewed the use of face masks to prevent transmission of respiratory viruses in over 245 children and adults,” said Trude Haecker, MD, FAAP, President, PA Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics and general pediatrician in Philadelphia. “This randomized study concluded that surgical face masks can prevent transmission of corona and influenza viruses. The PA-AAP recommends that face masks be worn by all children 2 years of age and older to all locations where social distancing cannot be maintained including shopping, going to the pediatricians’ office or attending school this fall depending on what the decision will be for their local school district.”
“As dangerous as this virus is, we are all very fortunate that we can beat this killer with simple, low cost and painless solutions like face masks and hand washing,” said Donna Cooper, Executive Director of Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY). Tragically some pre-school-aged children’s lives were already taken by this determined killer. For their sake, and the lives of those around them, children over two should be masked when in contact with those outside their family. First-hand experience also tells us at PCCY that children also take comfort when they see they can play a role in protecting their family and community from COVID.”
According to figures released by the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Pennsylvania added 1,120 new cases of the coronavirus on Monday. The state has 109,384 cases of the virus since the first case was discovered in March.
The state added 24 souls to the death toll putting the number at 7,146 deaths attributed to COVID-19
Dauphin County added 26 new cases of the virus and one death on Tuesday while Schuylkill County added 11 new cases and Northumberland County added nine cases. The current counts of cases in the three counties of the Citizen-Standard coverage area stands with Dauphin County at a total to 2,585 cases with 154 deaths, Schuylkill stands at 860 cases with 49 deaths, and Northumberland County is at 390 cases and 11 deaths.
Compare that to the epicenter of the virus in Philadelphia which added 175 new cases on Tuesday, putting their totals at 25,296 cases and 1,672 deaths.
With case numbers rising, state health officials say that mask wearing is needed to stem the rising numbers. Mask-wearing is required in all businesses and whenever leaving home. Consistent mask-wearing is critical to preventing the spread of COVID-19.
“As the state has put in place new mitigation efforts to offset recent case increases, we must renew our commitment to protecting against COVID-19 by wearing a mask, practicing social distancing and following the requirements set forth in the orders for bars and restaurants, gatherings and telework,” Dr. Levine said. “Pennsylvania has been a model for the country on how to reopen effectively using a careful, measured approach. However, we know the virus has not gone away as we see cases rise, so we must work together to stop another surge.”
In nursing and personal care homes, there are 19,225 resident cases of COVID-19, and 3,868 cases among employees, for a total of 23,093 at 835 distinct facilities in 61 counties. Out of our total deaths, 4,857 have occurred in residents from nursing or personal care facilities. Approximately 8,045 of the total cases are in health care workers.
As far as negative tests for each county, Dauphin is listed as having 25,226 negative tests while Schuylkill reported 11,463 negative tests and 5,898 in Northumberland County.
The counties affected and the number of confirmed cases, with the number of deaths in parentheses, are:
Adams-448 (18), Allegheny-7,593 (223), Armstrong-169 (6), Beaver-1,164 (85), Bedford-123 (4), Berks-5,080 (364), Blair-191 (2), Bradford-76 (3), Bucks-6,771 (574), Butler-577 (14), Cambria-232 (3), Cameron-5, Carbon-354 (28), Centre-365 (10), Chester-4,730 (341), Clarion-72 (2), Clearfield-120, Clinton-110 (5), Columbia-453 (35), Crawford-118 (1), Cumberland-1,165 (70), Dauphin-2,585 (154), Delaware-8,489 (683), Elk-40 (2), Erie-871 (15), Fayette-336 (4), Forest-9, Franklin-1,223 (46), Fulton-21 (2), Greene-100, Huntingdon-287 (4), Indiana-234 (6), Jefferson-55 (1), Juniata-125 (6), Lackawanna-1,866 (212), Lancaster-5,376 (403), Lawrence-308 (11), Lebanon-1,554 (54), Lehigh-4,733 (335), Luzerne-3,191 (183), Lycoming-301 (20), McKean-26 (1), Mercer-303 (9), Mifflin-93 (1), Monroe-1,562 (122), Montgomery-9,621 (845), Montour-91 (3), Northampton-3,780 (289), Northumberland-390 (11), Perry-110 (5), Philadelphia-25,296 (1,672), Pike-524 (21), Potter-20, Schuylkill-860 (49), Snyder-90 (2), Somerset-113 (2), Sullivan-10, Susquehanna-206 (26), Tioga-34 (2), Union-128 (2), Venango-59, Warren-14 (1), Washington-699 (10), Wayne-154 (8), Westmoreland-1,327 (44), Wyoming-57 (8), York-2,196 (84).
As of midnight July 26, there have been 1,059,776 negative tests for the coronavirus. The state also said that 75 percent of the confirmed cases have recovered. If a case has not been reported as a death, and it is more than 30 days past the date of their first positive test (or onset of symptoms) then an individual is considered recovered.
What is coronavirus?
According to the Pa. Department of Health, coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common throughout the world. These viruses can live in animals and at times, evolve and infect people before spreading through human to human contact.
Human coronaviruses are spread just like the common cold or the flu either through the air through coughing or sneezing, through close personal contact like touching or shaking hands, or by touching an object or surface with the virus on it.
Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. The symptoms can appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after a person is exposed to the illness. Reported illnesses have ranged from people with little to no symptoms to severe illness and death. As of July 28, the U.S. Center for Disease Control reports there have been 4,280,135 cases of the Coronavirus reported in the U.S. with 147,672 deaths.
What can you do?
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
- Cover any coughs or sneezes with your elbow, not your hands.
- Clean surfaces frequently.
- Stay home to avoid spreading COVID-19, especially if you are unwell.
- If you must go out, you are required to wear a mask when in a business or where it is difficult to maintain proper social distancing.
The Pa. Department of Health offers these guidelines as the COVID-19 crisis continues.
Stay home as much as possible. Try to get groceries once per week instead of daily. Freedom of travel remains, but please refrain from non-essential travel. Essential travel includes things like commuting to an essential job, picking up supplies like groceries and medicine, and checking on family and pets in other households. Do not host or attend gatherings.