READING, Pa. - As COVID-19 cases surge across the United States, Berks County is no exception.

"We're seeing numbers closer to what we saw in May," said Dr. Debra Powell, the chief of infectious disease at Reading Hospital.

Powell said cases are on the upswing, and so are hospitalizations.

"It's starting to build," Powell said. "We still have availability in the hospital, but we don't want to overwhelm our health system."

Pennsylvania health officials reported 2,900 new cases in the state on Thursday. The state's death toll stands at more than 8,900, and the coroner reported Thursday that the county's death toll was 398.

"We still have to continue to do what we've been saying all along, wearing your masks, socially distancing, etc., so I think it needs to be reinforced," said Powell.

Powell said that warning is especially important as we head into the holiday season.

"I think it's going to be hard going through Thanksgiving and Christmas, but we still have to advocate for our most vulnerable people, like the elderly," she said.

Powell is urging families to gather and celebrate safely.

"As we're getting into the holidays, again, try to stay in a smaller setting," Powell said. "Don't invite your entire family over for Thanksgiving."

Berk County's case spike comes as Reading City Hall remains closed to all but essential employees. Mayor Eddie Moran announced earlier this week that three employees tested positive for COVID-19. He said the building has been disinfected and sanitized and will reopen to employees again on Monday. It remains closed to the public.

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