By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

Pennsylvania state health officials reported 362 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 79,483. An additional 33 COVID-19 deaths were reported today, bringing the total deaths to 6,276.

Pennsylvania map/ National Atlas of the United States

“With more than half of the state now in the green phase of the process to reopen, it is essential that we continue to take precautions to protect against COVID-19,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “The commonwealth’s careful, measured approach to reopening is working as we see case counts continue to decline even as many other states see increases. But the virus has not gone away. Each of us has a responsibility to continue to protect ourselves, our loved ones and others by wearing a mask, maintaining social distancing and washing our hands frequently. Together we can protect our most vulnerable Pennsylvanians, our essential workers and our healthcare system.”

Most of the patients hospitalized are ages 65 or older, and most of the deaths have occurred in patients 65 or older. In nursing and personal care homes, there are 16,720 resident cases of COVID-19, and 2,955 cases among employees, for a total of 19,675 at 650 distinct facilities in 47 counties. Out of our total deaths, 4,279 have occurred in residents from nursing or personal care facilities.

In related news, Dr Levine reminded the public to take proper steps to prevent against tick bites and recognize the symptoms of Lyme disease, as some symptoms of Lyme disease are similar to those of COVID-19. Ticks can carry Lyme disease, among other dangerous diseases, that can be severe if not treated properly.

“Over the past several months, we have seen an increase in the number of emergency department visits related to tick bites,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “Some symptoms of Lyme disease, such as fever, chills and headache, are similar to symptoms of COVID-19. It is essential that all residents know the proper ways to protect themselves against ticks and are aware of the dangerous diseases they can carry. We want all Pennsylvanians to get outside and be healthy but do so in the safest way possible.”

Preliminary data show that more than 8,500 cases of Lyme disease were reported in Pennsylvania in 2019. The department is continuing to compile complete Lyme disease data, and final numbers for 2019 should be available within the next month. Over time, if not treated, Lyme disease can lead to severe symptoms that affect the heart, nervous system and joints.

You are at risk of getting a tick any time you are outside, including in wooded and bushy areas, areas with high grass and leaf litter, and even in your own yard. This is why it is important to take steps to decrease your chances of getting bitten.  To reduce your chances of a tick bite:

  • Walk in the center of trails and avoid areas with high grass and leaf litter;
  • Use a repellent that contains at least 20% DEET;
  • Wear light-colored clothing;
  • Conduct full-body tick checks on yourself and on your pets after spending time outdoors; and
  • Take a bath or shower within 2 hours after coming indoors.

If you have been bitten by a tick, make sure to monitor the area for any kinds of symptoms and contact your health care provider immediately. Symptoms of Lyme disease can include:

  • A red, swollen bulls-eye shape rash;
  • Fever;
  • Chills;
  • Headache;
  • Fatigue;
  • Muscle and joint aches; and
  • Swollen lymph nodes.