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Bedford County reports virus death

Everett man was being treated for COVID-19 at UPMC Altoona

A second person from the region has died from the coronavirus, according to the state Department of Health’s COVID-19 report on Saturday.

He is a 60-year-old man from Everett, Bedford County, who died Thursday at UPMC Altoona, according to information provided by Blair County coroner Patty Ross, who handled the death.

The previous area death — of a Dysart, Cambria County, man on April 5 — also occurred at UPMC Altoona.

The man from Everett tested positive after going to UPMC Bedford, then was sent to UPMC Altoona, where he was cared for by heath care workers in a negative pressure room using full protection from the virus, according to Ross.

The DoH reported a total of 16 new cases in the six-county region Saturday, bringing the regional total to 116.

Statewide, there were 1,676 new cases, 4 percent lower than the number of new cases reported Friday.

It was the second day in a row in which the new-case number went down, after three days in a row in which it had risen.

For the second day in a row, there were 78 new deaths statewide, bringing the total to 494.

It was just New Year’s Eve when reports began filtering in “from half a world away” about dozens of cases of a new kind of pneumonia, said Health Secretary Rachel Levine on Saturday’s webcast, noting that the recent Passover and today’s Easter holy days are another milestone marking the course of a disease that has encircled the world.

“Our hope is that we will come out renewed as a commonwealth and as a nation” when it’s over, she said.

While there are indications that the ongoing state-ordered mitigations — business and school closures, stay-home orders and a mask recommendation, coupled with help for hospitals to gear up with staff, supplies and equipment — may be “bending the curve” enough to keep the number of patients in Pennsylvania from overwhelming the hospital system, mitigation must continue, Levine said.

It must continue in spite of legislation proposed to reopen some businesses, she said.

“I understand there is legitimate concern about the economy, but now is not the time,” Levine stated. “Now is the time for people to stay home.”

The department and the governor’s office are working on reopening plans, but when they’re put into practice, that reopening will “happen in a progressive, iterative fashion,” she said.

Officials will be watching for many different factors, including, for specific locations, the number of total cases, the number of new cases and the percentage of positives per capita tested, she said.

And as restrictions are released, officials will watch for new infection spikes, in order to adjust the plan as needed, she said.

The computer models the department is consulting indicate that the “surge” of the pandemic in eastern Pennsylvania may be in the coming week, but it’s likely the peak will come later to western and central Pennsylvania, according to Levine.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.

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