Philly officials ‘cautiously optimistic’ over falling COVID case counts, fatalities

Ask us about COVID-19: What questions do you have about the current surge?

Pennsylvania reported 8,545 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the statewide total to 622,349 since the start of the pandemic. As of 11:59 p.m. on Monday, the state reported 267 new fatalities, for a total death toll of 15,353.

There are 5,995 individuals currently hospitalized with COVID-19, close to double the peak in the spring. Of that number, 1,174 are in the intensive care unit. The majority of hospitalizations and deaths have occurred in patients 65 and older.

Philadelphia reported 822 new cases on Tuesday (not counting an additional 103 probable new cases) since the previous day, for a total of 90,351 cases of COVID since the start of the pandemic. The city also registered 38 new deaths, for a citywide total of 2,406.

In a press conference, Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Tom Farley said the latest numbers offer reason for cautious optimism.

“I have better news today,” he said. “Our case counts have been falling for the past three weeks, but the case counts are still high and we still need to be careful.”

Over the week spanning Dec. 20-25, Philadelphia averaged 501 cases per day, along with a 9.0% positive test rate. That’s lower than the previous week, which averaged 679 cases per day, and a 9.4% positive test rate (though Farley added that fewer tests were performed last week because of the holiday).

Fatalities have also declined — from 94 deaths the week of Dec. 6, to 69 deaths the week of Dec. 13, to 38 the week of Dec. 20. The latest count will likely rise as late reports of deaths continue coming in, but, Farley said, “the fact that these numbers are decreasing, even though they’re high, is a sign that the lower case counts may be leading to fewer deaths, which is a positive sign.”

The number of hospitalized patients clocked in Tuesday at 784, lower than in previous weeks.

[ source ]