Allegheny County Health Officials Recommend Prioritizing Coronavirus Tests

Allegheny County Health Officials Recommend Prioritizing Coronavirus Tests

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – With another nearly 250 new positive coronavirus cases today, Allegheny County held its weekly briefing.

The focus this week is on testing after 20,000 tests were done since July 1.


While cases continue to stay in triple digits, Allegheny County Health Department Director Dr. Debra Bogen says she’s hopeful we will see a decline by the end of the month because of the county’s mitigation efforts. She says now her attention is turning to testing.


Dr. Bogen says more people are going to get tested, but new today, she’s now asking anyone not in three categories to just isolate and quarantine for 14 days but not get a test.


The groups who should get tested are people with symptoms, anyone who has come in close contact with someone who has tested positive and first responders or healthcare workers.

Also on Wednesday, the Board of Health held a meeting where health officials broke down the county’s numbers.


One graph showed a summary of activities that case investigators found week by week, which helps show a pattern. Employees or patrons at bars and restaurants ranked at the top of the list.


Allegheny County ordered restaurants and bars to close indoor dining in response to this surge.


Gov. Tom Wolf also announced new restrictions on restaurants and bars Wednesday. He says people going to bars and restaurants aren’t wearing masks or social distancing and calls this one of three “catalysts” for the state’s increase in cases.


Dr. Bogen also addressed a recent backup in test results earlier this week, saying a communication error with a lab caused delays.


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She says measures were put in place so this situation does not happen again.


Now when it comes to schools reopening, Allegheny County health leaders say it’s a challenge because tests are limited, so parents need to prepare to be flexible.


“I think we need to basically plan for three different scenarios: that we reopen using the guidance that’s out there now, we open with significant modifications but then we don’t know what will happen in November and December, so contingency plans for that and of course the potential for full closure again,” she says.


Dr. Bogen says the number of case investigators and contact tracers has nearly doubled. She says the department’s original plan was to have those people in place for a surge in the fall. With the recent spike, those hires were made more quickly to streamline the process.


More information on the Coronavirus pandemic: