HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Department of Health this afternoon confirmed one additional presumptive positive case of COVID-19 – one adult from Monroe County.
This brings the statewide total to 16 cases; 14 of the cases are presumptive positive and two cases, the Delaware County and Wayne County cases, have been confirmed by the CDC.
Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine also mentioned department awareness of an adult from another state who tested presumptive positive and is hospitalized in Montgomery County. This person is not a Pennsylvania resident and so is not counted in the state’s totals.
Beginning with this afternoon’s briefing, the department announced additional data on number of people identified for testing and other cumulative test results.
“We want to continue to be transparent and so have more data for you today,” Levine said. “To date, there have been 173 Pennsylvanians identified for testing; 100 of those have tested negative for COVID-19; 14 have tested presumptive positives; two have been confirmed positive by the CDC; and 57 tests are pending.”
Levine also discussed community spread and community mitigation plans, advising that the virus can spread in communities due to person-to-person contact, from touching surfaces or from simply being in the environment.
Mitigation plans can help slow the spread of the virus by doing things such as limiting large public gatherings, allowing for teleworking or tele-education such as some colleges and universities in Pennsylvania and others states are doing and social distancing, meaning staying away from close contact in public spaces.
“While we anticipate that there will be more Pennsylvanians with COVID-19 in the coming days and weeks, there are several steps everyone can take to keep themselves healthy and prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Levine said.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol- based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
- Cover any coughs or sneezes with your elbow, not your hands.
- Clean surfaces frequently, such as countertops, light switches, cell phones and other frequently touched areas.
- Stay home if you are sick and until you are feeling better.
The Wolf Administration Preparedness Actions
The World Health Organization first announced the coronavirus outbreak in late January and as of today, has declared it a pandemic. The Pennsylvania Department of Health has had its Emergency Operations Center set up since Feb. 1. The center allows for a collaborative, concentrated state response, including:
- Activated the Department of Health’s Emergency Operations Center to allow for enhanced response coordination;
- Begun testing for COVID-19 at the state laboratory;
- Maintained communication and outreach with federal, state and local partners;
- Provided symptom monitoring for residents returning from areas impacted by coronavirus;
- Provided health care providers, businesses and education providers with information;
- Reviewed and adapted current pandemic flu plans to prepare for spread of COVID-19;
- Increased testing capacity;
- Partially activated the Commonwealth Response Coordination Center at PEMA.
- Gov. Tom Wolf signed an emergency disaster declaration March 6 to ensure state agencies involved in the response have the expedited resources they need to continue to focus on the virus and its possible spread.
- The Department of Health is providing a daily update via statewide press release.
- On March 9, Levine began to provide daily press briefings. The March 12 press briefing will be at noon at PEMA.
- CDC confirmed one additional case, in Monroe County. This means Pennsylvania has 14 presumptive positive cases and two positives.
Symptoms of the COVID-19 can include fever, cough and shortness of breath. The symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. Reported illnesses have ranged from people with little to no symptoms to people being severely ill and dying. Individuals most at risk for severe symptoms include elderly and those with pre-existing conditions.
To date, there are more than 121,000 cases worldwide, including more than 4,300 deaths. There are 1,039 cases and 29 deaths to date in the United States. The department expects cases to continue to be confirmed in the upcoming days and weeks but wants everyone to take action to help prevent the spread of the virus.
The department also said due to the rapidly changing nature of the spread of COVID-19 around the world, it is important for families to be prepared.
Comments from State Health Secretary
“Pennsylvanians should know that we are taking every precaution to keep our communities safe,” Levine said. “If someone is sick with COVID-19, they are in isolation at home or at a hospital and getting medical care.
“If someone is in quarantine, they have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19 and are at home to limit exposure to the community. It is important for residents to remember to stay calm. We have the networks in place to ensure that we continue to make a healthy Pennsylvania for all.
“Further spread of this virus throughout the nation will likely occur. We encourage people to prepare for potential life disruptions. The same family emergency plans and kits that we use to prepare for flu or norovirus, and even snowstorms and floods, are important now.
“Since the start of flu season, we have encouraged Pennsylvanians to stop the spread of illnesses by washing your hands, covering coughs and sneezes, cleaning surfaces and staying home if you are sick. Those are the same healthy habits you should continue to practice to protect your family and yourself against the spread of this virus.
“Individuals who intend on traveling outside of the United States are urged to check the CDC’s and the federal Department of State’s travel guidance. Currently there are outbreaks of COVID-19 occurring within numerous countries across the world. The number of countries seeing new cases has increased significantly over the last week.”
“As this situation evolves, we will continually update Pennsylvanians through our website, health.pa.gov, our Facebook page and our Twitter account,” Levine said. “It’s important to remember that the most accurate and timely information regarding this outbreak is available through the Department of Health.”