Looking Beyond The Coronavirus Numbers As Plans Are Put In Place For Returning To School, Restaurants Face Restrictions – CBS Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) Every day during this pandemic is marked by the release of the latest number of new cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

For Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, it is his first thought every morning.

Its such an important factor of how we can function as a community. So I know if those numbers continue to rise as they did in late June early July we have to shut things down. We have to impede peoples activities. . So the lower we keep those numbers like we got in May and June means we can open up more of our economy and kids can go about school activities that are coming up and sports.

Each area school district is needing to make decisions on how to bring students back to education.

Fitzgerald is concerned bringing everyone back together could result in an increase of numbers but he adds, If the kids and the teachers and staff are all wearing their masks and keeping physical distance , and follow the protocol that the district and buildings lay out for people Im sure we can do this safely, Fitzgerald said.

Im sure were going to see Dr. Bogen and her team monitoring this very closely, case investigations, contact tracing, and if there is an outbreak in a building or in a certain school district, Im sure shes going to want to go out and go in and take action with respect to that, rather than shut down the whole system is there is only a hot spot in one area.

KDKAs John Shumway reports:

Fitzgerald says the issue of people congregating has moved from the bars restaurants and social halls to peoples homes. We had people having graduation parties or had a birthday or anniversary whatever now youre going together with extended family and who knows where theyve been.

As for the cries from the restaurant industry, Weve got to do more take out and outdoor dining because the one activity that I know they would like to see is inherently risky.

Asked if he could foresee restaurants being allowed to expand the number of people they seat the County Executive says this:

Its going to be challenging and the reason is its an activity thats inherently risky and inherently potential for spread. Number one you are inside, number two you are close together, and number three not wearing a mask. While eating, youre not wearing your mask. And youre eating, your drinking, youre talking, youre spitting, its a tough environment.

While the restaurant owners are going to Harrisburg to try and get the state to lift restrictions, Fitzgerald says he will follow the lead of Health Department Director Dr. Debra Bogen.

Dr. Bogen put in restrictions on the restaurants before the state and he says theyll make a decision about whether to follow the states lead or remain more strict when the time comes.

The numbers of new cases have settled into a reporting pattern of being lower over the weekend and climbing in the early part of the week. Fitzgerald says, Wed like to see the numbers continue to come down but what I think weve seen is a higher level of cooperation. I think people are taking it more seriously. Again the challenge is going to be when the schools open and all these kids come into to school the students staff cooperating to keep those numbers low.

Fitzgerald worries about the mental health of the community, Absolutely. Because this is something that has impacted not just every individual but every activity that we do, school, work going to church. Family reuniions weddings you could go on.

And there is no end in sight, until we have a vaccine we are going to continue to live with this uncertainty.

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Looking Beyond The Coronavirus Numbers As Plans Are Put In Place For Returning To School, Restaurants Face Restrictions - CBS Pittsburgh

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