Dauphin County Commissioners back off plan to reopen

The Dauphin County Commissioners announced Wednesday they were backing off a plan to go rogue and reopen the county starting Friday, May 15.

PennLive reported on their website that at the commissioners meeting they were creating the Reopening and Restoring Dauphin County Task Force to guide the county as it does repopen in compliance with the state’s plan.

The first job of the task force is to take a full look on whether any businesses currently closed could reopen safely within the state’s rules.

In making their decision, majority commissioners Jeff Haste and Mike Pries lashed out at Gov. Tom Wolf for his remarks on Monday, threatening to withhold federal funds and punish state-licensed businesses for counties that defied the stay-at-home status, but then said that it was a fight they couldn’t win at the moment.

Pennsylvania added 701 new cases of the coronavirus on Wednesday. According to information released on Pa. Department of Health’s website, there are currently 58,698 confirmed cases.

The death toll was increased by 137 souls on Wednesday, but the Department of Health say these cases are over the past several weeks and not a one day total.

Dauphin County added 20 cases and a death to its total on Wednesday, while Schuylkill added 19 cases, while Northumberland County added two cases. Dauphin County currently stands at a total to 871 cases with 39 deaths, Schuylkill stands at 478 cases with 14 deaths, and Northumberland County, in the yellow phase of reopening, is at 128 confirmed cases.

In comparison, Philadelphia County, the hot spot of the state, added 158 cases and 33 deaths, putting their totals at 15,376 positive cases and 904 deaths.

In nursing home and long-term care facilities, Dauphin County is listed in the table having three facilities affected, with 210 cases among residents, 43 cases among employees and 26 deaths. Schuylkill County has 54 residents, 15 employees affected and two deaths in nine facilities. Northumberland County is back on the nursing home lists, with one patient in one facility

All total, 543 facilities are reporting 12,408 cases among residents and 1,806 among employees, and have accounted for 2,705 of Pennsylvania’s 3,943 deaths attributed to the coronavirus.

Guidance released Tuesday to hospitals and skilled nursing homes require a resident who is being discharged from a hospital to a nursing home, personal care home, or assisted living facility be tested for COVID-19, if they were not hospitalized due to the virus. This will provide valuable information to the long-term care facility on any needs to cohort the patient, monitor their condition and take necessary precautions to prevent the spread of the virus, if applicable.

In addition, a Health Alert was issued to provide direction to all long-term care facilities on a universal testing strategy, outlining when testing should be used, and what steps to take after a positive test result. Test results can be used to cohort those exposed, determine the burden of COVID-19 across units or facilities to allocate resources, identify health care workers who are infected, and address those who are no longer ill.

The department is committed to testing all patients and staff in Pennsylvania’s long-term care facilities. A pilot study of two facilities is currently underway to test all residents and staff at the facility. The information from these tests will be used for cohorting. The department, working with commercial laboratories, has been coordinating with facilities that are implementing universal testing. We are receiving test swabs from the federal government to ensure our facilities have an adequate supply. In addition, the Pennsylvania National Guard is mobilizing to provide a mobile testing option for facilities that may not be able to test on their own.

Officials say that the public’s effort on social distancing and wearing masks must continue to get things back to normal.

“As counties move from red to yellow, we need all Pennsylvanians to continue to follow the social distancing and mitigation efforts in place,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “We must continue to protect our most vulnerable Pennsylvanians, which includes our seniors, those with underlying health issues, our healthcare workers and our first responders. I am proud of the work that Pennsylvanians have done so far, but we cannot stop now, we must continue to take the necessary steps to protect ourselves from COVID-19.”

As far as negative tests for each county, Dauphin is listed as having 6,439 negative tests while Schuylkill reported 2,823 negative tests and 922 in Northumberland County.

The state also updated numbers of age ranges of the positive cases and hospitalizations to date. Currently 2,056 Pennsylvania residents are hospitalized with the virus and its complications, down 131 from Tuesday.

The Department of Health announced Tuesday they had distributed the investigational antiviral medication, remdesivir, to treat patients in the hospital with COVID-19. The federal government distributed the first shipment of 1,200 doses to the department on Tuesday, May 12, and this entire allotment has been shipped to Pennsylvania hospitals.

“The department is working to give our hospitals every opportunity to treat patients with COVID-19,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “It is important to note that there is limited information on the safety and effectiveness of using remdesivir to treat people in the hospital with COVID-19. However, it was shown in a clinical trial to shorten the recovery time in some people, which is why the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized the emergency use of the medication for treatment.”

Fifty-one hospitals across Pennsylvania will be receiving the first shipment over the next few days. The hospitals that will receive the first shipments were determined based on the number of COVID-19 patients at the hospital over a recent seven-day period, and the severity of the illness of those patients, based on whether they are on a ventilator. The department will continue to work with our federal partners to acquire more doses of this medication to serve more patients across Pennsylvania.

The breakdown is as follows:

Positive cases

Ages 0-4, <1%; 5-12, <1%; 13-18, 1%; 19-24, 6%; 25-49, 37%; 50-64, 26%, 65+, 28%


Ages 0-29, 2%; 30-49, 5%; 50-64, 10%; 65-79, 20%; 80+, 19%

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

Adams-169 (5), Allegheny-1,545 (139), Armstrong-56 (5), Beaver-509 (78), Bedford-29 (1),  Berks-3,485 (179), Blair-31, Bradford-39 (2), Bucks-4,166 (373), Butler-197 (6), Cambria-45 (1), Cameron-2 Carbon-205 (17), Centre-126 (4), Chester-1,955 (197), Clarion-24 (1), Clearfield-31, Clinton-41, Columbia-330 (28), Crawford-21, Cumberland-463 (35), Dauphin-871 (39), Delaware-5,157 (419), Elk-6 (1), Erie-125 (2), Fayette-85 (4), Forest-7, Franklin-545 (13), Fulton-8, Greene-27 (1), Huntingdon-197, Indiana-78 (5), Jefferson-7, Juniata-94 (1), Lackawanna-1,232 (128), Lancaster-2,325 (172), Lawrence-71 (7), Lebanon-849 (19), Lehigh-3,318 (129), Luzerne-2,467 (123), Lycoming-139 (7), McKean-8 (1), Mercer-78 (2), Mifflin-53, Monroe-1,228 (65), Montgomery-5,513 (556), Montour-50, Northampton-2,518 (162), Northumberland-128, Perry-35 (1), Philadelphia-15,376 (904), Pike-451 (21), Potter-4, Schuylkill-478 (14), Snyder-33 (1), Somerset-32 (1), Sullivan-1, Susquehanna-81 (13), Tioga-16 (1), Union-42 (1), Venango-7, Warren-2, Washington-127 (4), Wayne-107 (5), Westmoreland-419 (32), Wyoming-31 (4), York-803 (14).

As of noon May 13, there have been 244,171 negative tests for the coronavirus, 6,182 more than the day before.

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 May 12, the U.S. Center for Disease Control reports there have been 1,342,594 cases of the Coronavirus reported in the U.S. with 80,820 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.