Coronavirus ID’d in Pennsylvania
This morning, Governor Tom Wolf confirmed the first two presumptive positive cases of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Pennsylvania. These cases are labeled “presumptive” because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has yet to confirm them, although state officials believe they will be confirmed positive. Gov. Wolf has already signed a disaster declaration in Pennsylvania.
Both cases of COVID-19 are in adults — one from Delaware County; the other, from Wayne County. Both resulted from travel (one from travel in Europe; the other from travel within the U.S.). Neither case arose from community spread. Both patients are quarantined at home and are doing well.
The state Department of Health is now conducting what they call “contact tracing,” which means they are reaching out to every person known to have been in contact with the two infected individuals. Every person who has had close contact will be quarantined at home for two weeks, and the Department of Health will monitor their condition.
To date, there are nearly 100,000 cases of COVID-19 worldwide, including more than 3,300 deaths. There are 233 cases and 12 deaths to date in the United States. Dr. Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania Secretary of Health, says that her department, in coordination with Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA), is poised to respond powerfully to this outbreak. “We are in full incident command and have been for five weeks,” she said today. “We have the systems in place. We are ready.”
Early this week, the Department of Health began testing for the virus at the state public health laboratory in Exton. In the coming days, commercial laboratories will begin testing for the virus as well. Currently, there is no test backlog in Pennsylvania, and there is no cost for tests performed at the state laboratory in Exton.
Dr. Levine urged all Pennsylvanians to take action — through very simple measures — to limit the spread of the virus:
- 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 such as countertops, desks, light switches and cell phones frequently.
- Stay home if you’re not feeling well. Symptoms of COVID-19 can include fever, cough and shortness of breath. The symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days after exposure. Reported illnesses have ranged from people with little to no symptoms to people with severe illness. Individuals most at risk for severe symptoms include the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions.
- Speak with your boss about the possibility of telecommuting, if need be, in the future. Likewise, if you are a company owner or manager, devise a plan for your workers if spread of the virus accelerates in this area. Offer the option to telecommute, if at all possible.
- Check in with members of your community. Look out for each other, just as you would in a snowstorm. This is an extended, slow-motion storm, and everyone is likely to need help, especially those who are quarantined in their homes.
As a member of your community, I will continue to keep you updated as the virus evolves.
You can watch the governor’s news conference here:
But for more information on a daily basis:
Remember to wash your hands and, as always, please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions or concerns.
Pennsylvania State Representative
Serving Cheltenham Township, Springfield Township and Jenkintown Borough