Pennsylvania is experiencing an unprecedented spike in coronavirus cases — even when compared with the early days of the pandemic. In the previous peak, in April, Pennsylvania averaged just fewer than 2,000 new cases a day. On Thursday, Pennsylvania announced 5,000 new cases.

Philadelphia has not been spared, either, and last week reported the highest number of new cases for a single day — 879. The surrounding counties and New Jersey experienced similarly unfortunate “records breaking” days, with hospitalizations also increasing.

Amid this darkness, the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris is reason for hope. Unlike Donald Trump, who has downplayed the virus to the point of dismissing it and traded wishful thinking for evidence-based measures, the Biden-Harris transition team is already working with a group of experts on a plan to defeat the virus. Their plan includes doubling the number of drive-through testing sites, hiring 100,000 contact tracers, producing protective gear, mandating masks in public, and providing funds to localities experiencing budget shortfalls. These actions can make a difference.

More reason for hope: On Monday, Pfizer Inc. cited early data from a vaccine trial that suggest a 90% reduction in risk of COVID-19 infection. Anthony Fauci, the country’s leading public health official, told CNN that a vaccine could be available for the general public starting in April.

Even under the rosiest timelines, these major improvements will be too late for this current wave of cases. It’s time for hard decisions and difficult sacrifices — and our leaders must set the tone.

For the last few weeks, Philadelphia Public Health Commissioner Thomas Farley has been trying to raise the alarm on the increase in cases. In recent weeks, he shared concerns over cases related to workplaces and private social gatherings.

Asking people to stay at home and separated from one another should be reflected in the policies and orders that reinforce that. In other words, don’t discourage families coming together for Thanksgiving if indoor dining and exercise classes remain an option.

The most important thing that Philadelphians can do is to stay at home. Encouraging this might not be enough. Gov. Tom Wolf and Mayor Jim Kenney should impose new restrictions and consider a stay-at-home order, as they rightly imposed in March.