Steve Letavic
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Posted Friday, March 27, 2020

Message from Secretary Rachel Levine

Daily COVID-19 Press Conference

Today, Secretary Rachel Levine held her daily press conference to provide an update on the COVID-19 crisis. As of this morning, there have been 531 new cases in Pennsylvania, which brings the total number of positive cases to 2,218 in 50 counties. 21,016 patients have tested negative for COVID-19. 77 patients have needed intensive care treatment, and 44 patients have needed ventilators. There have been 22 deaths in the state, all of which have been adults.

 Secretary Levine stated that:

  • We have updated charts on our website. It has been translated into other languages as well.
  • We have begun live streaming our daily press conferences in Spanish.
  • We would need to see a consistent decline in new cases over time to show we’ve mitigated the spread.
  • We still have 40% of our ICU beds available, although it fluctuates daily.
  • Approximately 2% have required the use of ventilators. We might see more patients that will need this. The issue we could face is if too many people contract COVID-19 and overwhelm our healthcare.
  • The rise of cases could be due to the virus spreading rapidly, not simply the prevalence of testing.
  • We are preparing for the peak of COVID-19. We’re working on making sure healthcare providers have supplies, equipment, and staffing to handle this issue. The virus will determine the timetable of when the peak happens, not us.
  • We are monitoring travelers who come into Pennsylvania, but she has not heard any talk of a travel ban.
  • We have stopped tracing the virus when community spread became consistent. We are shifting to a mitigation strategy rather than a containment strategy.
  • As we track the increases of COVID-19 cases, we discuss stay at home orders for the counties affected by community spread.
  • We will be working with our health systems about what their needs are in terms of supplies. 
  • We do not yet know how effective the stay at home orders have been.
  • We have had patients in nursing homes contract the virus. We help the county municipal health departments to make sure the staff and residents are protected from the virus spreading further.
  • Citizens can still volunteer for life sustaining causes like Meals on Wheels, food banks, or blood donation.