Lancaster County set a new daily record of 720 new coronavirus cases on Friday, shattering the previous mark of 482, set one week earlier.
Pennsylvania’s 11,763 new cases on Friday also set a new record, eclipsing Thursday’s tally of 11,406.
The new numbers from the state Department of Health bring the pandemic’s total cases to 18,478 in Lancaster County and 398,600 statewide.
Testing volume has increased, but so has the portion of tests that turn out positive, and health official say that indicates widening community spread of the virus.
The pace of new cases has been climbing since late September, and the per-capita rates of the past two weeks are five to six times higher in the state and county, compared with their spring peaks.
To date, one in every 30 Lancaster County residents has had a confirmed case of COVID-19 since the pandemic began. The figure is one in 32 statewide.
Hospitalizations have also surpassed their spring levels and deaths are climbing quickly, though they remain below their levels of the spring peak.
“We have been concerned about a surge after Thanksgiving,” said Dr. Michael Ripchinski, chief clinical officer at Lancaster General Hospital. “We usually see increased hospitalizations about 1-2 weeks following infection with COVID-19. As a result, we are beginning to see more COVID-19-related deaths and more are expected.
“While we know more about how to identify and treat COVID-19 than we did during our initial local increase of cases in the spring, the only way to protect yourself and our community is to take simple, proven precautions: Wear a mask, social distance and wash your hands. Please also consider avoiding unnecessary errands and large gatherings.”
Lancaster County Commissioner Craig Lehman agreed, and urged county residents to abide by all public health recommendations.
“Medical and public health professionals have been predicting a possible post-Thanksgiving surge,” Lehman said. “It is likely that at least part of the increase is reflective of that plus the failure on the part of some to not wear masks, practice proper social distancing and proper personal hygiene and to avoid large gatherings.”
Pennsylvania reported 169 new deaths Friday, bringing the pandemic’s total to 11,113. It was the fourth day in a row in which the number of new deaths has been between 150 and 200.
In Lancaster County, the coroner reported 24 deaths from Monday through Friday, bringing the pandemic’s total here to 526.
There were 5,071 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in Pennsylvania on Friday, up from 4,405 on Monday and 1,417 one month ago.
Of Friday’s state total, 140 COVID-19 patients were at either Lancaster General or WellSpan Ephrata hospitals in Lancaster County, according to information on their websites.
That was up from 124 on Monday and 51 one month ago.