Pennsylvania is not yet seeing "sustained community spread" of COVID-19, but expects that will be coming, state Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said Tuesday.
Officials have been able to track the majority of cases back to an exposure, she said, but "at this point we can assume that there are people whose exposure we cannot trace back to a known source" and tracing becomes more difficult as the number of tests increases.
The cumulative number of negative tests rose from about 205 Sunday to roughly 879 Tuesday as commercial and hospital lab testing picked up steam. The number of positive tests rose from 63 to 96 in that time.
Levine said most tests are now being tested through those avenues rather than the state's lab, and because the numbers are so high the state will now report new cases only once a day.
In Pennsylvania, testing has generally been reserved for those with severe symptoms or who have been in contact with known cases, and requires a doctor's order. Levine said the recommendation from her department and the CDC is that people who have only mild symptoms, such as congestion, stay home rather than seeking testing.
"it is important to get accurate numbers but it’s more important to prevent the spread," she said, stressing the importance of mitigation efforts and social distancing. "Please stay home."
She said earlier in the week that Pennsylvania was still pretty far from widespread population testing.
Pennsylvania is not seeing any strain on hospitals yet, she said, "but it would not surprise us if we do start to see increasing numbers, probably next week and the week after."