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Pennsylvania’s coronavirus death toll rose 28 percent Wednesday as a result of reporting lags, public health officials said. 

Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said the 479 additional fatalities occurred over the last 10 days and added to the state’s tally from the electronic death-reporting system only this week. Nearly 2,200 residents have died from complications related to COVID-19 and more than 44,000 have tested positive for the virus over the last seven weeks. 

“It’s important to remember with this reconciliation of data analysis, this is reporting from deaths that have taken days or weeks to occur,” Levine said. “The count has gone up because of the reconciliation of the data.”

The sharp uptick will not impact Gov. Tom Wolf’s plan to release counties in the north and west from some pandemic restrictions next week as part of his phased economic reopening plan. 

The administration has said it will allow counties with fewer than 50 cases per 100,000 residents over a 14-day period to progress into the “yellow” stage of mitigation strategies. That allows the county to reopen businesses and day cares with restrictions meant to limit the spread of the virus.

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Pennsylvania’s coronavirus death toll rose 28 percent Wednesday as a result of reporting lags, public health officials said. 

Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said the 479 additional fatalities occurred over the last 10 days and were added to the state’s tally from the electronic death-reporting system only this week. Nearly 2,200 residents have died from complications related to COVID-19 and more than 44,000 have tested positive for the virus over the last seven weeks. 

“It’s important to remember with this reconciliation of data analysis, this is reporting from deaths that have taken days or weeks to occur,” Levine said. “The count has gone up because of the reconciliation of the data.”

New numbers won’t impact reopening plan

The sharp uptick will not impact Gov. Tom Wolf’s plan to release counties in the north and west from some pandemic restrictions next week as part of his phased economic reopening plan. 

The administration has said it will allow counties with fewer than 50 cases per 100,000 residents over a 14-day period to progress into the “yellow” stage of mitigation strategies, which would reopen businesses and day cares with restrictions meant to limit the spread of the virus. A more specific announcement about which counties will be the first to hit the bench marks Friday.

“We are looking over time and looking at a framework over at least two weeks for any county or region,” Levine said. “So one day’s change would not influence that [reopening decisions].” 

The administration has said testing capacity and contact tracing systems will also factor into a county’s ability to reopen safely. The state’s 12.8 million residents have been under stay at home orders since April 1, and many will see restrictions extended past the May 8 expiration.

“We are looking over time and looking at a framework over at least two weeks for any county or region,” Levine said. “So one day’s change would not influence that [reopening decisions].” 

The administration has said testing capacity and contact tracing systems will also factor into a county’s ability to reopen safely. The state’s 12.8 million residents have been under stay at home orders since April 1, and many will see restrictions extended past the May 8 expiration.

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