Erie County business exposed 106 to COVID-19 – News – GoErie.com

Erie County health officials have contacted everyone exposed.

Two people with COVID-19 at an Erie County business exposed more than 100 others to the virus last week.

The business was closed until it could be properly cleaned, said Charlotte Berringer, R.N., director of community health for the Erie County Department of Health.

Berringer declined to identify the business, or the service or product it provides. She did not know as of Tuesday morning whether any of the 106 people exposed had tested positive for COVID-19.

“We had to bring in extra contact tracers (Friday),” Berringer said. “We were able to contact everyone.”

It is the most people exposed to COVID-19 at one county location since the pandemic started, Berringer said.

Erie County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper reported eight new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, continuing the county’s decline in cases since early August.

“It looks encouraging as we begin the start of school,” Berringer said. “But it’s important to identify people with COVID-19 who are asymptomatic and get them tested.”

County health officials have been trying to convince UPMC and Allegheny Health Network to test the close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases, even if the contacts don’t show any symptoms.

“We need to get those contacts to isolate and one way is to get them tested,” Berringer said.

In July, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended these people get tested. Berringer said they can get tested at local pharmacies that provide COVID-19 testing.

But UPMC and AHN both require patients have symptoms, Berringer said.

“The most important thing for these persons to do is to quarantine,” UPMC Hamot spokeswoman Karen Beardsley said in an email. “Testing and its outcome, if negative, won’t change that. Of our 3,000 asymptomatic tests conducted on patients prior to procedures/surgeries, we have had zero positives. Overall our county numbers are not very high and community spread is decreasing, so we are focused on symptomatic testing.”

The weekly testing of sewage at the Erie Wastewater Treatment Plant showed a stable level of COVID-19, according to Howard Nadworny, M.D., a Saint Vincent Hospital infectious diseases specialist and adviser to the county health department.

Samples taken Aug. 19 showed slight increases in “copies” of the virus’ genetic material from the previous week. However, the number of copies has remained in a small range since mid-June.

“(This indicates) continued community spread but not appearing to be worsening quickly,” Nadworny said in an email. “Better than we had feared but certainly not improving. (It) will be interesting to see what happens as schools reopen, though it may take several weeks to be evident.”

The county reported a total of 1,305 COVID-19 cases through Tuesday morning. Of those cases, 1,076 people have recovered and 38 have died. There are currently 191 active cases.

A total of 22,031 negative COVID-19 tests have been reported through Tuesday morning, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, for a 5.6% positive test rate in the county.

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Contact David Bruce at dbruce@timesnews.com. Follow him on Twitter @ETNBruce.

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