Several patients recently diagnosed with COVID-19 at Butler Memorial Hospital contracted the disease while vacationing outside Pennsylvania, according to hospital officials.
The number of patients being treated for COVID-19 at Butler Memorial Hospital jumped from two Wednesday to eight Friday, including three confirmed cases and two patients being treated in the intensive care unit.
An increase in the number of confirmed cases in the county from 245 to 252 follows a trend in the statewide total, which included 600 new cases, raising the total to 84,370.
“A fair number of them were people who went on vacation and came back with it,” said Dr. John Love, medical director of infectious diseases at BMH.
At least four or five cases can be attributed to vacationing, he said, adding that the source of exposure in the other cases is not known.
“Not every case we have a clear-cut origin for,” Love said.
The cases diagnosed at BMH did not originate in nursing homes or hospitals, he said.
People traveling to beaches in the Carolinas and Florida that have high infection rates, and exercising “less than robust” social distancing in restaurants and other places are putting themselves at risk, he said.
And because people who haven't traveled are also getting infected, Love said everyone should continue washing their hands, sanitizing surfaces, wearing masks and social distancing.
“It's not a surprise. A large portion of people decided not to social distance, and this is what happens. (COVID-19) is not going anywhere. This is still infecting people in our community who have not traveled anywhere. You don't have to do anything to get it,” Love said.
He said too many people are beginning to look upon social distancing as a burden.
Five of the eight patients at Butler Memorial Hospital are suspected to have COVID-19, three have confirmed cases and two are being teated in the ICU. Clarion Hospital reported one suspected case Friday.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health reported the county had 252 confirmed cases, 32 probable cases and 5,894 negative test results. Statewide, 632 probable cases and 634,711 negative test results were reported.
The number of deaths in the county related to COVID-19 remains at 13, but 22 new deaths occurred statewide, raising the total to 6,579, according to the department.
In surrounding counties, the department reported Allegheny County had 2,239 confirmed cases, 50,232 negative tests and 183 deaths; Armstrong had 72 confirmed cases, 1,978 negative tests and six deaths; Beaver County had 618 confirmed cases, 5,679 negative tests and 78 deaths; Clarion County had 33 confirmed cases, 902 negative tests and two deaths; Lawrence County had 87 confirmed cases, 2,414 negative tests and nine deaths; Mercer County had 111 confirmed cases, 3,484 negative tests and six deaths; Venango County had 14 confirmed cases, 1,062 negative tests and no deaths; and Westmoreland County had 567 confirmed cases, 16,042 negative tests and 38 deaths.