The Philadelphia health commissioner warned residents Wednesday against attending holiday gatherings with people from other households– including family– due to the prevalence of COVID-19 in the city.
Pennsylvania is averaging more than 8,500 new, confirmed infections per day, up nearly 50% in two weeks. The number of COVID-19 patients requiring hospital care has increased by two-thirds since last month, averaging more than 4,300 per day. Deaths have also increased nearly 50% in two weeks to 89 daily.
Dr. Cheryl Bettigole, the commissioner, expressed her own frustrations with the announcement, but insisted that the recommendation is necessary, Fox 29 reported. She called indoor holiday parties “too dangerous.”
“We’re now entering what could be the most dangerous time since last winter,” she said, according to CBS Philadelphia. “With flu season just around the corner, I’m very concerned that a spike in people being hospitalized for COVID may put our hospitals over the edge.”
Her office did not immediately respond to an after-hours email from Fox News.
“Please do not get together with other households for Christmas, or if you do, keep those gatherings small,” she said. “Have everyone do a test before they come, and ask everyone to stay home even if they feel a little bit unwell.”
The Philadelphia Inquirer called Bettigole’s advice a “grim echo of December 2020.” The paper reported that the city has no plans to implement any kind of stay-at-home orders.
Gov. Tom Wolf also called on Washington to send Federal Emergency Management Agency “strike teams” for hospitals, skilled nursing facilities and ambulance companies due to a recent surge in cases in the state.
“I am hopeful that these critically important supports will be addressed to alleviate the strain on our health care system and ultimately be able to provide Pennsylvanians the care they need during this time,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report