April 2 COVID-19 Update – Pennsylvania American College of Physicians

April 2 Pennsylvania COVID-19 Update

As the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise in Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Wolf on extended his stay-at-home order to all 67 counties in the state through April 30. 
Over the past week, Wolf has issued stay-at-home orders for counties where the virus’ spread was most acute. As of Tuesday, 33 counties were on that list, covering well over half of the state’s population.  But the governor had stopped short of a statewide order until Wednesday, saying he wanted to take a measured approach to limiting people’s movements.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health on Wednesday reported 962 new positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the state total to 5,805 in 60 counties.  Statewide, 42,427 patients tested negative through Tuesday midnight.  286 are health care workers and another 200 in senior living facilities.  In the last 24 hours 360 new cases were found positive in Philadelphia.

Of those positives, more than 620 required hospitalization since March 6.  Eleven new deaths were reported in the last 24 hours, for a state total of 74. 

Of the patients who have tested positive for the virus, the age breakdown is as follows: Nearly 1% are aged 0-4; Nearly 1% are aged 5-12; 1% are aged 13-18; Nearly 9% are aged 19-24; 40% are aged 25-49; Nearly 29% are aged 50-64; and 19% are aged 65 or older. Those percentages remain virtually unchanged. 

Most of the patients hospitalized are aged 65 or older, and most of the deaths have occurred in patients 65 or older. All of the deaths have been adults.
Questions to Governor and Dr. Levine this afternoon
ABC-27 – How are things going with the state’s efforts to collect PPE and masks from state companies? WOLF: We’re trying to buy and solicit donations from companies and individuals.  Right now there’s a shortage of masks, although there are different types.  We’re working diligently every hour to get them.

Altoona Mirror – A CDC official said 20% of positives are asymptomatic – should we be doing more? WOLF: We’re prioritizing, with hospitals and health systems are doing the bulk of the testing.  Recent data shows a shorter wait time for results.  We don’t have the resources or lab capacity to do population testing.

PennLive – Have you given guidance to EMS Companies for PPE? LEVINE: These groups are absolutely critical.  We will provide EMS workers with PPE and will work to be sure they are funded.  If one becomes positive, they will need to isolate and contacts to quarantine, which will putt additional strains on system.

WGAL – is PA contracting with third party sources for things like ventilators and masks?  WOLF: No, the Defense Production Act  allows the feds to do that, not the state. 
Elwood City – are you looking to reopen the hospital facility there during the surge?  Are you working with the Army Corps of Engineers on this?  WOLF: The Corps is going into these facilities and assessing what needs and can be done to free up those spaces for patients.  Also looking at other recently closed facilities.

104.1 – If you work for a medical provider who can’t provide a mask, what should I do?  LEVINE: Talk to the provider/boss and discuss that.  If there’s a concern, contact the Health Care Coalition or the Health Department.  Many health care providers may be taking care of others.

PennLive – How do recent results match up against your best/worst case scenarios?  LEVINE: Working with U Pitt on those and the variables change daily.  Working to perfect that, and having more discussions, watching the daily trends but watching carefully. 

Lehigh Valley Live – Are we flattening the curve with new cases?  LEVINE: We’re watching it, and it continues to go up right now.  Too soon to tell. The models are all dependent on people Staying at Home.

York Daily Record – It’s taking people more than a week to get results. Could this compromise the results?  LEVINE: No it doesn’t affect the accuracy – we know its difficult, and have asked Quest and LabCorp to speed the process up.

Capital Star – PA’s testing rate is lower than other states – does this hamper efforts?  LEVINE: We have increased our capacity for lab testing, and access to reagents, but we’ll continue to ramp testing up given our resources.

WTAG – Essential business list – will your statewide order impact this list?  Any modifications to stay at home guidelines now that it’s statewide?  WOLF: The guidelines remain the same for all.  As for the list, no, nothing has changed.  We continue to use the same list with the waiver program. Its fair for customers, employees and businesses.  I’m not changing anything else.  Applications for clarification or exemption for the list will only be accepted until 5 p.m. Friday, April 3.
Court clarifies declaration – Discovery
The PA Supreme Court issued an order today that extends the statewide judicial emergency declaration through April 30.  Courts will remain closed to the public except for designated essential functions.

However, the court clarified that it expects non-essential matters can continue to move forward, within the “sound discretion of President Judges,” so long as judicial personnel, attorneys, and other individuals can and do act in conformity with orders and guidance issued by the executive branch.

Here again, the court continues to specifically AUTHORIZE AND ENCOURAGE “use of advanced communication technology, subject to only constitutional limitations.”  The original March 18 order designated functions that the court considers “essential.”  Discovery is not included in the list of essentials in the March 18 order.  It appears possible that the court expects discovery (a non-essential matter) can continue to move forward using advanced communication technology, subject to the discretion of Common Pleas President Judges.
Immigrant Health Care Services
We’ve heard reports of immigrant families seeking health care and not knowing where to get help and referrals for information and insurance.  Many immigrant families don’t know who to turn to for help. Pennsylvanians Concerned for Children and Youth have set up a phone line that they can trust to find these health care centers, and the Healthline operators can speak virtually every language.  The number is 215-563-5848, extension 17.
Independent Practices – SBA programs open Friday, April 3.
Starting April 3, small businesses and sole proprietorships can apply for loans through existing SBA lenders. Starting April 10, independent contractors and self-employed individuals can apply for loans through existing SBA lenders. Other regulated lenders will be available to make these loans as soon as they are approved and enrolled in the program. 

Coronavirus Emergency Loans Guide and Checklist for Small Businesses and Nonprofits
Visit www.sba.gov for a list of SBA lenders. 
Paycheck Protection Program/CARES Act
The Treasury Department released details about how small businesses can apply for the Paycheck Protection Program—which provides $349 billion in forgivable loans to businesses employing fewer than 500 people. The program—which is part of the CARES Act that was passed and signed into law last week—will help America’s small business entrepreneurs face the challenging economic conditions sparked by the coronavirus outbreak.