UPDATE (6/30): Pa. coronavirus cases hit 86K; Wind Creek reopens; green-phase party done in Easton

As Pennsylvania coronavirus cases near 86,000, almost all of the state now falls under the green phase of reopening. But life is not back to normal – more testing and contact tracing are underway, and, in at least one major city, a rise in cases means new restrictions are once again being imposed.

As of Monday, coronavirus cases statewide totaled 85,988 with 6,614 deaths since the COVID-19 pandemic first reached Pennsylvania in early March, according to daily data from the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

(Can’t see the map? Click here.)

Meanwhile, businesses in the Lehigh Valley, new to the green phase, are reopening, though with some restrictions, such as nearby Pocono Raceway, which held a NASCAR race last weekend with no fans. Elsewhere, Pittsburgh is halting alcohol consumption at bars and restaurants after a reported case spike. And contact tracing is underway statewide.

These are your Pennsylvania coronavirus updates for June 29, 2020.

Coronavirus in Pa.

Coronavirus cases in Pennsylvania increased by 492 in Monday’s health department report. Thirty-five deaths and 1,618 new cases have been reported since Friday.

U.S. coronavirus cases have surged to record daily numbers as some states reopen. Pennsylvania’s own case rate has increased over several days but much more modestly compared to others seeing spikes in cases.

(Can’t see the chart? Click here.)

The health department has said the rising rate of new cases over the last week is due, at least in part, to an increase of testing patients who previously have shown no symptoms and a mandatory testing program in the state’s nursing homes.

(Can’t see the chart? Click here.)

In Pennsylvania, the majority of hospitalizations and deaths have been in residents 65 and older, according to state data. Residents of long-term care facilities account for 17,697 cases of COVID-19, about 21% of the state’s total, and 4,531 deaths, 68% of Pennsylvania’s death toll.

The health department estimates 78% of Pennsylvanians have so far recovered from the coronavirus. To date, 666,901 tests have come back negative.

(Can’t see the chart? Click here.)

Coronavirus in the Lehigh Valley

As of Monday, the Lehigh Valley totaled 7,627 coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic and at least 560 deaths, according to the state’s figures. That breaks down to:

(Can’t see the map? Click here.)

The counties themselves have reported that the average age of those who have died from COVID-19 is over 80.

Over the pandemic’s duration, the Lehigh Valley and surrounding counties have seen some of Pennsylvania’s highest densities of coronavirus cases.

(Can’t see the table? Click here.)

Green phase reopening (and regression)

The Lehigh Valley joined most of the rest of Pennsylvania in the green phase of reopening on Friday. That means businesses including salons, bars and entertainment venues can reopen, though masks are still required and capacity limits are in place.

Among some bigger venues locally, places like the ArtsQuest campus and various malls have reopened. The Lehigh Valley Zoo has targeted a July 1 opening date. Wind Creek casino in Bethlehem opened Monday morning.

Dorney Park will open for season pass-holders July 8 and everyone else on July 11. Regionally, Knoebels Amusement Resort will open July 1. Pocono Raceway hosted a NASCAR doubleheader over the weekend, but without fans.

It is important to note that even in green-phase counties, masks and social distancing are still essential. In Pittsburgh, which entered the green phase June 5, on-site consumption of alcohol in bars and restaurants will be halted as of 5 p.m. Tuesday due, the Associated Press reports, to “an alarming increase in infections, largely among younger people.”

Similarly, in New Jersey, a plan to reintroduce indoor dining this week was halted indefinitely on Monday after recent scenes from expanded outdoor bar and restaurants showing packed crowds not wearing masks and ignoring social distancing.

Contact tracing

Contact tracing is the process of locating people infected with COVID-19, identifying and alerting their close contacts and then asking them to quarantine. Health officials say it can mean the difference between a handful of new infections, or hundreds.

At worst, public health experts estimate Pennsylvania could need up to 4,000 contact tracers. With Pennsylvania’s current low case counts, the state requires about 600 tracers and has about 500. The state’s plan involves municipal and county health departments working with volunteers, nonprofits and hospital systems – but the process is still taking shape.

More than 800 people have volunteered to be contract tracers through the ServPA platform.

SEE MORE: What’s the state of COVID-19 contact tracing in the Lehigh Valley? We found out.

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Steve Novak may be reached at snovak@lehighvalleylive.com.

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