HAZLETON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — Community leaders in Hazleton say they are keeping a close eye on the number of new COVID-19 infections in the region as recent data shows an uptick in cases in southern Luzerne County.
“Well we are always concerned because at any moment there can be a explosion,” Hazleton Mayor Jeff Cusat told Eyewitness News.
The Hazleton area was once considered a COVID-19 hot spot in Pennsylvania, prompting the implementation of mitigation efforts such as a curfew. Since then, numbers of new cases have been consistently lower but in recent weeks, that has changed.
“With the numbers of people living in homes in such close proximity they work together in our factories 20,000 to 30,000 a majority of them live in the city,” Cusat said. “You never know when it’s going to explode.”
Experts at the Lehigh Valley Health Network, which operates the only hospital in the Hazleton Area, says the number of new cases aren’t skyrocketing but they are being closely watched.
“I think it’s probably no coincidence that a few weeks after the July 4th holiday the weather has been nice people were out traveling more and so I think you know they are traveling and potentially bringing more coronavirus back to the Hazleton area and spreading in our area,” Dr. Michael Evans with the Lehigh Valley Health Network said.
Dr. Evans believes that people not following COVID-19 safety measures are contributing to the spike in cases.
“You combine that we people just becoming fatigued and tired of doing all the social distancing practices and mitigation practices that we should do you start to see levels bubble back up in a lot of different spots,” Dr. Evans said.
Leaders in the Hazleton area say they urge to take safety precautions seriously. They say they aren’t hitting the panic button but are keeping a close eye on the numbers.
Meanwhile, Dr. Evans tells Eyewitness News that Lehigh Valley Hazleton is well prepared and equipped to handle any surge in COVID-19 cases.