Pa. model for “flattening the curve”, CDC says

As states across the country begin to reopen and nearly half are seeing COVID-19 cases rise, Governor Tom Wolf announced that Pennsylvania is not one of them.

At a daily COVID briefing with Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine, he noted another milestone: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention proprietary data for states indicates that we are one of just three states that has had a downward trajectory of COVID-19 cases for more than 42 days. The other two states are Montana and Hawaii.

“We know our decline in cases is because of our choices because more than half of states are experiencing an increase in COVID-19 cases as reopening begins,” Gov. Wolf said. “Many of these states are experiencing significant case increases tied to reopening too soon or too much. Pennsylvania is not. We have remained focused on balancing economic interests with public health.”

Gov. Wolf pointed to the decision to require masks when visiting businesses even in counties in the green phase as another smart decision that could have lasting effects as a COVID-19 surge is possible this fall.

“Recently, more studies show that masks prevent people from unknowingly giving COVID-19 to others,” Wolf said. “This includes peer-reviewed studies published in scientific journals like The New England Journal of Medicine.

“As the U.S. Surgeon General said a few days ago, wearing a mask doesn’t impinge on our freedom – it gives us more freedom from unknowingly spreading COVID-19.”

According to other data analyses, including those by Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center and The New York Times, Pennsylvania’s steady decline in cases since April put the state among a select few that continue a flattening of the curve. This distinction is particularly important as more counties reopen.

“Pennsylvanians have done an excellent job at demonstrating how to balance business and public health,” Gov. Wolf said. “If we keep this up, we can continue to be a model to other states and a leader at saving lives and livelihoods during this pandemic.”

According to figures released by the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Pennsylvania added 418 new cases of the coronavirus on Tuesday. The state has 80,236 cases of the virus since the first case was discovered in March.

The death toll was increased by 42 souls, putting the count at 6,361

Dauphin County added 15 cases and five deaths to their county on Wednesday, as Northumberland County spiked with 18 new cases and Schuylkill County added four. Dauphin County currently stands at a total to 1,708 cases with 116 deaths, Schuylkill stands at 702 cases with 43 deaths, and Northumberland County is at 252 cases and four deaths.

In comparison, Philadelphia County, the hot spot of the state, added 92 cases and 12 deaths on Tuesday, putting their totals at 20,276 positive cases and 1,540 deaths since the coronavirus first hit in March..

Officials say that the public’s effort to fight and prevent the spread of the disease must continue.

“With more than half of the state now in the green phase of the process to reopen, it is essential that we continue to take precautions to protect against COVID-19,” Dr. Levine said. “The commonwealth’s careful, measured approach to reopening is working as we see case counts continue to decline even as many other states see increases. But the virus has not gone away. Each of us has a responsibility to continue to protect ourselves, our loved ones and others by wearing a mask, maintaining social distancing and washing our hands frequently. Together we can protect our most vulnerable Pennsylvanians, our essential workers and our healthcare system.”

As far as negative tests for each county, Dauphin is listed as having 14,407 negative tests while Schuylkill reported 6,667 negative tests and 2,331 in Northumberland County.

Currently 750 Pennsylvania residents are hospitalized with the virus and its complications, down 38 from the day before.

In nursing and personal care homes, there are 16,850 resident cases of COVID-19, and 2,986 cases among employees, for a total of 19,836 at 649 distinct facilities in 47 counties. Out of our total deaths, 4,332 have occurred in residents from nursing or personal care facilities. Approximately 6,092 of our total cases are in health care workers.

The counties affected and the number of confirmed cases, with the number of deaths in parentheses, are:

Adams-304 (11), Allegheny-2,122 (177), Armstrong-68 (5), Beaver-616 (77), Bedford-61 (2), Berks-4,359 (342), Blair-55 (1), Bradford-49 (3), Bucks-5,498 (546), Butler-263 (13), Cambria- 61 (3), Cameron-2, Carbon-262 (24), Centre-172 (6), Chester-3,397 (312), Clarion-31 (2), Clearfield-61, Clinton-65 (3), Columbia-389 (33), Crawford-35, Cumberland-758 (61), Dauphin-1,708 (116), Delaware-6,981 (631), Elk-6, Erie-497 (9), Fayette-100 (4), Forest-7, Franklin-855 (42), Fulton-17 (1), Greene-30, Huntingdon-239 (4), Indiana-97 (5), Jefferson-20 (1), Juniata-109 (5), Lackawanna-1,611 (200), Lancaster-3,867 (341), Lawrence-89 (8), Lebanon-1,210 (40), Lehigh-3,997 (276), Luzerne-2,845 (170), Lycoming-172 (18), McKean-13 (1), Mercer-118 (6), Mifflin-61 (1), Monroe-1,363 (105), Montgomery-8,014 (773), Montour-68, Northampton-3,270 (249), Northumberland-252 (4), Perry-77 (5), Philadelphia-20,276 (1,540), Pike-487 (20), Potter-13, Schuylkill-702 (43), Snyder-61 (1), Somerset-42 (1), Sullivan-3, Susquehanna-173 (18), Tioga-20 (2), Union-83 (2), Venango-17, Warren-5, Washington-158 (6), Wayne-128 (9), Westmoreland-502 (38), Wyoming-36 (7), York-1,209 (35).

As of midnight June 18, there have been 543,832 negative tests for the coronavirus. The state also said that 76 percent of the confirmed cases have recovered. If a case has not been reported as a death, and it is more than 30 days past the date of their first positive test (or onset of symptoms) then an individual is considered recovered.

The two stages of reopening and the counties that are in them are:

Yellow counties (counties going green on June 19 in bold) — Berks, Bucks, Chester, Dauphin, Delaware, Erie, Franklin, Huntingdon,  Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Luzerne, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Perry, Philadelphia, Pike, Schuylkill, Sullivan, and Susquehanna. 

Green counties — Adams, Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Bedford, Blair, Bradford, Butler, Cambria, Cameron, Carbon, Centre, Clarion, Clearfield, Clinton, Columbia, Crawford, Cumberland, Elk, Fayette, Forest, Fulton, Greene, Indiana, Jefferson, Juniata, Lawrence, Lycoming, McKean, Mercer, Mifflin, Montour, Northumberland, Potter, Snyder, Somerset, Sullivan, Tioga, Union, Venango, Warren, Washington, Wayne,Westmoreland, Wyoming and York.

What is coronavirus?

According to the Pa. Department of Health, coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common throughout the world. These viruses can live in animals and at times, evolve and infect people before spreading through human to human contact.

Human coronaviruses are spread just like the common cold or the flu — either through the air through coughing or sneezing, through close personal contact like touching or shaking hands, or by touching an object or surface with the virus on it.

Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. The symptoms can appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after a person is exposed to the illness. Reported illnesses have ranged from people with little to no symptoms to severe illness and death. As of June 17, the U.S. Center for Disease Control reports there have been 2,132,321 cases of the Coronavirus reported in the U.S. with 116,862 deaths.

What can you do?

Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
Cover any coughs or sneezes with your elbow, not your hands.
Clean surfaces frequently.
Stay home to avoid spreading COVID-19, especially if you are unwell.
If you must go out for a life-sustaining reason, please wear a mask.
The Pa. Department of Health offers these guidelines as the COVID-19 crisis continues.

Stay home as much as possible. Try to get groceries once per week instead of daily. Freedom of travel remains, but please refrain from non-essential travel. Essential travel includes things like commuting to an essential job, picking up supplies like groceries and medicine, and checking on family and pets in other households. Do not host or attend gatherings.