Allegheny County Covid-19 rates spiked after bars and restaurants reopened, county health department says
Amie Downs, the county’s executive communications director, told CNN Tuesday the numbers have increased dramatically since mid-June, when bars and restaurants were permitted to reopen.
The county has since closed them again to on-site consumption, but cases continue to climb.
“According to our health department director, before mid-June, cases were coming from household contacts or other identified places,” Downs said. “In mid-June, it switched to people not knowing where they got it, so there was more community spread.”
Allegheny County data provided to CNN shows daily case rates stood in the single digits or teens in early June before surging in the second half of the month, hitting a June high of 109 new cases identified Tuesday.
Downs said the county health department was able to determine bars and restaurants were largely to blame after ruling out protests. Protesters who got sick were often isolated cases, she said.
“Individuals reporting they attended a protest or other mass gathering have not matched, meaning they went to different protests or demonstrations,” Downs said. “There was no commonality.”
Allegheny County is not officially tracking exact numbers by venue, but in doing contact tracing, the county has learned people attending the same bars and restaurants have contracted the virus in “dozens and dozens,” she said.
The county had previously entered its green phase of reopening, and Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine said at a press conference Monday that the county would not return to the yellow phase despite the recent spike in cases.
The county banned all on-premise alcohol sales at bars and restaurants as part of a more “surgical” approach, Levine said.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said Monday that he was not considering extending the alcohol ban statewide, however.
“We don’t need to do the broad, draconian things we did three months ago,” he said. “Some of these more targeted, more surgical solutions seem to be much more appropriate.”
CNN’s Anna Sturla contributed to this story.