Allison Smith, left, and Camila Huber, both of Millersville, wear masks while walking outside Central Market in Lancaster city Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020.

Pennsylvania shattered its records for new COVID-19 infections on Thanksgiving, with the state Health Department reporting 8,425 cases, 389 in Lancaster County.

Because Pennsylvania did not report cases on the holiday, the two-day case total statewide tallied 15,785, and 871 in Lancaster County.

Since the novel coronavirus emerged in the state eight months ago, 343,614 Pennsylvanians have become infected, 15,890 in Lancaster County.

State health officials reported Friday that 4,087 Pennsylvanians were hospitalized with COVID, the majority 65 years and older.

Penn Medicine Lancaster General Hospital had 84 hospitalized with COVID. WellSpan Ephrata Community Hospital in Ephrata Borough had 30.

Pennsylvania – which hit the grim milestone of 10,000 COVID-related fatalities earlier this week – saw 118 new deaths on Wednesday and 21 on Thursday. Since March, 10,234 Pennsylvanians and 513 Lancastrians have died from COVID.

“Pennsylvanians, especially our frontline health care workers, have been fighting this relentless pandemic for more than eight months,” U.S. Senator Bob Casey Jr., (D-Pa.) said in a statement reacting to the somber statistics. “COVID-19 has now claimed the lives of more than 10,000 Pennsylvanians, and over a quarter of a million Americans.”

Casey called on Senate Republicans to work with the incoming Biden Administration to pass “robust legislation” that provides resources to protect front-line workers and logistical support for local officials tasked with distributing the vaccines.

“Elected officials owe much more than condolences to the people who entrusted us with public office,” Casey said.

The Scranton Democrat also called for a national testing strategy and universal masking to protect the nation’s most vulnerable: seniors living in congregate settings.

While residents in long-term care facilities, which include nursing homes, account for roughly 10% of all infections, they represent 63% of the fatalities.

The alarmingly high number of cases heading into the holidays has health officials bracing for a surge upon a surge with models projecting that Pennsylvania could see more than 20,000 COVID cases a day next month. The projections also show the state running out of ICU beds by mid-December.

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