Pennsylvania's Department of Health announced another 5,488 COVID-19 cases on Thursday, a record total boosted by 93 new cases in the Valley.
Thursday's total is 777 cases higher than the previous one-day record, set on Wednesday. Over the past two days, there have been 10,199 new cases in the state and 40,829 since Nov. 1.
Pennsylvania has set a new record in each of the past three days and has had more than 1,000 new cases each day since Oct. 6 and at least 2,000 cases for 11 consecutive days.
Also on Thursday, Danville Area School District announced plans to shift to virtual learning for all students starting next week.
State health officials also announced another 49 deaths linked to the novel coronavirus, pushing the statewide total to 9,194. There were four new deaths in the Valley, including two in Northumberland County and one each in Montour and Union counties.
The number of Pennsylvanians hospitalized due to the complications from COVID-19 increased by more than 100 for the second day in a row as well. There are now 2,196 residents in hospitals — up 116 from Wednesday — and 207 being treated on ventilators. Geisinger in Danville is treating 15 more patients for COVID-19 on Thursday than on Wednesday. The Montour County hospital is treating 47 patients — including six on ventilators. There are 15 COVID patients at Evangelical Community Hospital and seven more at Geisinger-Shamokin. There are no patients on ventilators at those two facilities. The state peaked in April with more than 2,800 patients hospitalized, but dropped below 450 in late September.
Locally, there were 93 new cases in the Valley, including 37 in Northumberland County, 33 in Union, 19 in Snyder and four in Montour County.
Since March, there have been 248,856 cases, 71 percent of which have recovered. On Thursday, 16 counties had at least 100 new cases.
The two new deaths in Northumberland County push the total there to 116, including 106 that are tied to long-term care facilities. Montour County's death was the 13th there, including eight that are tied to nursing homes. Union County's 12th death was confirmed Thursday, the first in that county since Oct. 24. Two of Union County's deaths are tied to long-term care facilities. Snyder County remained steady at 18 COVID-related deaths — the county hasn't had a new death since Oct. 30 — with 15 tied to nursing homes.
The Valley has had 3,749 cases of the novel coronavirus since the first case was detected in Montour County on March 21. There have been 1,856 in Northumberland County, 901 in Union, 636 in Snyder and 356 in Montour County.
Of the Valley's cases, 800 of them are linked to long-term care facilities, according to the state’s nursing home database. Since the state began tracking the pandemic in March, there have been 552 cases at 10 Northumberland County long-term care facilities (416 patients, 136 staffers), 102 in Montour County (82 residents, 20 staffers), 99 in Snyder County (83 residents, 16 staffers) and 47 in Union County (37 residents, 10 staffers).
Case increases in the Valley are linked to nursing homes, college campuses and prisons.
On Thursday, Susquehanna University reported it has 23 active cases — an increase of two from Wednesday — including 22 students and one employee who are in isolation. Susquehanna announced Tuesday night it will shift to remote learning for the rest of the semester. According to the university's COVID dashboard, there are 23 active cases on campus, all of which have been confirmed since the weekend. There have been 37 total cases since the semester began back in August.
At Bucknell University, there are 31 active cases of the novel coronavirus and 34 individuals are in isolation. Twenty of the active cases are among students.
There are 34 active COVID-19 cases among inmates at USP-Allenwood according to the latest update from the federal Bureau of Prisons, a number that has remained steady after an increase of 31 cases on Wednesday. The bureau's COVID-19 dashboard shows 34 active inmate cases and one active staff member case as of 8 a.m. On Tuesday morning, there were three inmate cases and one staff case. There are no active cases at Allenwood's medium-security location. There are no active inmate cases and two staff cases at USP-Lewisburg.
Since March, there have been 275 cases at the Valley federal prisons, including 245 among inmates. Of those cases, 238 are no longer active.
There are still 25 active cases at SCI-Coal Township, including 21 cases among inmates.
Danville going virtual
According to an email from Danville Superintendent Ricki Boyle sent to parents and guardians of students, the district looked at data from surveys and the state departments of Health and Education to make “the difficult decision to move from an in-person model to virtual.”
Students using Bridge or eLearning models will continue to use their current setups, Boyle said, and other students will be transferred to Google Classroom for virtual attendance.
Boyle said students will learn virtually Nov. 19-20, 22-23, Dec. 1-4 and Jan. 4-8.
Students will return to school from Dec. 7-22.
Nov. 25-27 is Thanksgiving break and Nov. 30 is an Act 80 day, so there will be no school.
Holiday break will be Dec. 23-Jan. 1.
More complete information will be posted on the school district’s website and sent home with students Friday.