Nearly 13,000 new coronavirus infections in Pennsylvania were confirmed Saturday, marking the biggest single-day spike since the pandemic began.
The 12,884 additional cases took the statewide total to at least 411,484, the Pennsylvania Department of Health said Saturday. There were also at least 149 more deaths, with the virus claiming at least 11,262 lives in the state thus far.
The department said it has seen a “significant” increase of COVID-19 infections among younger people, particularly 19 to 24-year-olds.
There are currently 5,230 people hospitalized with the virus in Pennsylvania, and 1,065 are in intensive care units, according to the health department. Officials this week expressed concerns over the dwindling number of ICU beds in the state.
The most recent spike follows days of large numbers of new infections as Pennsylvania and the nation struggle to contain the virus, with public health officials’ prior warning of a deadly winter seemingly coming to fruition.
The virus had killed nearly 280,000 Americans and infected more than 14.4 million as of Dec. 5, according to NBC News' coronavirus tracker.
There is fear that holiday travel will cause yet another big spike of infections.
Though experts have warned against such travel, millions ignored those warnings and flew by plane over the Thanksgiving holiday. The full scope of that decision and its bearing on infections nationwide will likely come into better focus over the coming days.
Even with promising vaccine candidates now available, health officials say it will likely take months to immunize enough people to beat the virus.
The best way to remain safe in the meantime is to wear a face mask, avoid congregate settings as much as possible and maintain at least 6 feet of distance from anyone not in one's immediate household.