HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Department of Health this morning confirmed six additional presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 — four residents from Montgomery County and two residents from Delaware County.
All are adults and are either in isolation at home or being treated at the hospital. This brings the statewide total to 28 cases; 22 of the cases are presumptive positive and six cases, one in Delaware County, one in Wayne County and four in Montgomery County have been confirmed by the CDC.
“While we anticipate that there will be more Pennsylvanians with COVID-19 in the coming days and weeks, it is important for residents to know the commonwealth is prepared and to be prepared themselves,” Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said.
“Right now, you have a higher chance of testing positive for COVID-19 if you have traveled to a country or state with known community outbreaks or have come in contact with someone who has the virus.
“We are working with the health care community across Pennsylvania to keep them informed, consult on patient testing and ensuring they have the resources they need to care for patients.”
The Wolf Administration Preparedness Actions
The World Health Organization first announced the coronavirus outbreak in late January and 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.
- CDC confirmed six cases, one in Delaware County, one in Wayne County and four in Montgomery County. This means Pennsylvania has 22 presumptive positive cases and six positives.
- The department announced additional data on the number of people identified for testing and other cumulative test results. As of today, 278 patients identified for testing; 138 of those have tested negative for COVID-19; 22 have tested presumptive positive; six have been confirmed positive; and 112 tests are pending.
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.
Pennsylvanians are reminded to:
- 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.
- Contain if you are sick, you should stay home until you are feeling better.
To date, there are 1,268 cases and 33 deaths 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,” said Levine. “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,” she said. “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.”