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03/07/2020

Gov. Wolf Announces Two New Presumptive Positive COVID-19 Cases, Legislative Action to Aid in Swift Response

Harrisburg, PA - Governor Tom Wolf this afternoon confirmed two new presumptive positive cases of 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Pennsylvania. Both individuals are from Montgomery County, have mild symptoms, are in isolation at home and were exposed to an area of the United States where COVID-19 is present.

“These new cases bring our total of presumptive positive cases to four in Pennsylvania,” Gov. Wolf said. “Even with these new cases, I want to reassure Pennsylvanians that the commonwealth is prepared and responding appropriately and swiftly so that information and resources are available.

“I have been coordinating with legislative leaders from both parties, and we have agreed to immediately work toward a package that would provide resources to ensure we are aggressively mitigating the spread of COVID-19."

Resources will help mitigate the spread and strengthen state and local efforts by:

  • Supporting county and municipal health departments;
  • Securing necessary equipment and personnel;
  • Securing personal protective equipment (PPE);
  • Disseminating public health messaging; and
  • Supporting care for seniors, the most at-risk population.

“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 that they should be, too,” Sec. of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “We are working with the health care community and local community leaders across Pennsylvania to keep them informed, consult on patient testing and ensuring they have the resources they need to care for patients. We are prepared to mitigate the spread of this virus in Pennsylvania.”

On Friday, the Wolf administration announced the first two presumptive positives – one adult in Delaware County and one in Wayne County. Both have mild symptoms and are in isolation at home.

To date, there are more than 105,000 cases worldwide, including more than 3,500 deaths. There are 401 cases in the United States and 17 deaths to date in the United States. The CDC 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. CDC 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.

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 February 1. The center allows for a collaborative, concentrated state response, including:

  • Activated of 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 to test 20 to 25 individuals daily;
  • Purchased equipment to increase testing capacity to 125 to 150 individuals beginning the week of March 9.
  • Partially activated the Commonwealth Response Coordination Center at PEMA.
  • Governor 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.

About COVID-19

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.

 
Comments from State Health Secretary

“We are making progress to increase our testing capacity to up to 150 specimens a day over the weekend,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “This increased capacity allows us to continue to work with clinicians to ensure Pennsylvanians have access to testing. We want individuals who have potential exposure and symptoms to call us at 1-877-PA-HEALTH (1-877-724-3258).

“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,” Dr. Levine said. “It’s important to remember that the most accurate and timely information regarding this outbreak is available through the Department of Health.”

Updated Coronavirus Links: Press Releases, State Lab Photos, Graphics

Find the latest information on the coronavirus here.

Photos of the state’s lab in Exton are available for download and use here.

Coronavirus and preparedness graphics are available here near the bottom of the page: On.pa.gov/coronavirus

March 7 press release on the coronavirus:

Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19, No New Presumptive Positives

March 6 press releases on the coronavirus:

Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19, Testing Capability at State Lab

Gov. Wolf Signs COVID-19 Disaster Declaration to Provide Increased Support for State Response

Wolf Administration Confirms Two Presumptive Positive Cases of COVID-19

MEDIA CONTACT:    Lyndsay Kensinger, Governor’s Office, 717-783-1116

Nate Wardle, DOH, 717-787-1783 or ra-dhpressoffice@pa.gov 

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