Harrisburg, PA– WETM– The Pennsylvania Department of Health this morning confirmed one additional presumptive positive case of COVID-19 – a resident from Montgomery County, bringing the statewide total to 11 presumptive positive cases. This resident is hospitalized.
The department also announced that it will hold a daily press briefing at PEMA headquarters at 1310 Elmerton Ave. in Harrisburg every day at noon to announce the latest efforts and updates on the commonwealth’s response to COVID-19.
“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,” Dr. 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 February 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 the spread of COVID-19;
- Increased testing capacity;
- Partially activated the Commonwealth Response Coordination Center at PEMA.
- Governor Tom Wolf signed an emergency disaster declaration on 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, Sec. of Health Dr. Rachel Levine began to provide daily press briefings. Today’s press briefing will be at noon at PEMA.
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 the 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 nearly 116,000 cases worldwide, including more than 4,000 deaths. There are 755 cases and 26 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
“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 CDCs 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.