June 16 Pennsylvania COVID-19 Update
- Monday’s COVID-19 numbers and links
- DoH reports May nursing home inspection, sanction information
- CDC Guidance for Large Community Events and Mass Gatherings
- DoH announces partnership with General Healthcare Resources
- More drive-through testing sites added this week
Monday’s Department of Health Data Report
On Monday, the Pennsylvania Department of Health confirmed that as of 12:00 a.m. June 15 there were 323 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 79,121. Approximately 5,996 of our total cases are in health care workers. There are 513,909 patients who have tested negative to date. DoH reports that 74% of all Pennsylvania confirmed positive cases have recovered.
In nursing and personal care homes, there are 16,612 resident cases of COVID-19, and 2,936 cases among employees, for a total of 19,548 at 642 distinct facilities in 47 counties. A county breakdown can be found here.
During the past two weeks, the state has had a total of 6,605 confirmed virus cases reported. Two weeks earlier, the state had nearly 8,800 cases reported during the prior two weeks. Using those figures, the incidence rate (two weeks of new cases per 100,000 population) is now 52 compared to 69 two weeks ago; the incidence rate peaked at 164 on April 17 and 18.
There have been 6,243 total Pennsylvania deaths attributed to COVID-19, an increase of 28 new deaths. Out of the total deaths, 4,268 have occurred in residents from nursing or personal care facilities. County-specific information and a statewide map are available here.
There are 630 patients who have a positive serology test and either COVID-19 symptoms or a high-risk exposure, which are considered probable cases and not confirmed cases.
Of the patients who have tested positive to date the age breakdown is as follows:
- Nearly 1% are ages 0-4;
- Nearly 1% are ages 5-12;
- Nearly 2% are ages 13-18;
- 6% are ages 19-24;
- Nearly 37% are ages 25-49;
- Nearly 25% are ages 50-64; and
- 28% are ages 65 or older.
Most of the patients hospitalized are ages 65 or older, and most of the deaths have occurred in patients 65 or older. More data is available here.
Statewide – The Wolf Administration has since noon, June 14:
- Provided an update from Pennsylvania State Police on business closure enforcement actions.
For the latest information for individuals, families, businesses and schools, visit “Responding to COVID-19” on pa.gov.
DoH Reports May Nursing Home Inspection, Sanction Information
In its May 2020 report, Department of Health nursing home surveyors conducted 292 inspections of nursing homes, including 210 complaint investigations during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, nine sanctions were finalized against nursing care facilities, which included the issuance of one provisional one license, and civil penalties totaling $83,000.
Dr. Levine said, “We remain committed to protecting the health and well-being of our most vulnerable Pennsylvanians by continuing to hold nursing home operators accountable, as necessary, to ensure they are providing safe care. If you see something at a nursing home that doesn’t seem right, we encourage you to speak up.”
Although annual inspections are not occurring at this time, extensions are in place according to guidance issued from the Center of Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS). The majority of other inspections are still occurring but may be conducted virtually rather than onsite to minimize the spread of COVID-19.
Individuals with complaints about a nursing home can file that complaint with the department in several ways. Complaints can be made anonymously by calling 1-800-254-5164, filling out the online complaint form, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or sending the complaint in the mail to the department.
The number of long-term care facility resident cases, employee cases and deaths continues to decrease, as reflected in the long-term care facility graphs on the department’s LTCF data page.
The department recently announced an order directing testing at skilled nursing facilities. Facilities in need of assistance are encouraged to contact the department, which can provide assistance from a number of available resources on infection control, personal protective equipment, etc.
The inspections, called surveys, include information on nursing home patient-care and building inspections. If a facility is cited for not following regulations during the survey, it must submit a plan of correction that includes what will be done to fix the issue and a completion date. The department will conduct a surprise follow-up inspection to ensure the issue is resolved. Surveys are posted to the website 41 days after the survey is completed.
The department also may issue a sanction. Possible sanctions include a civil penalty, a ban on admissions, a license being revoked, or a facility being put on a provisional license, which requires, among other things, being subject to additional inspections. A provisional license can be renewed no more than three times. The department can return the facility to a regular license if it is satisfied that all issues have been corrected and it is warranted.
The department maintains a searchable database, which allows the public to view patient care surveys, building safety surveys, size of the nursing home, type of ownership and additional information about each of the nursing homes in the state. The department oversees nearly 700 nursing homes and more than 88,000 beds within nursing homes in Pennsylvania, in addition to other facilities, including hospitals, ambulatory surgical facilities, home care agencies and others.
The Wolf Administration has taken a three-pillar approach to protecting the vulnerable residents living in nursing homes and other long-term living settings from COVID-19:
- Ensuring resident safety through testing, education and resources;
- Preventing and mitigating outbreaks; and
- Working in partnership with state agencies, local health departments and long-term care facility operators.
The Department of Health has been pushing personal protective equipment to all of long-term care facilities in Pennsylvania. Additionally, the department continues to work with ECRI as they provide technical assistance and its Healthcare Acquired Infection (HAI) team to further assist and remain connected with the nursing homes in order to best assist their needs.
CDC Guidance for Large Community Events and Mass Gatherings
The Trump administration issued new safety advice for individuals and for those seeking to hold events, warning "the pandemic is not over" even as states increasingly relax restrictions put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Among the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are for individuals to continue wearing face coverings in public, washing their hands and practicing social distancing when possible. They said individuals should continue to follow guidance from local and state authorities.
“The bad news today is that the pandemic is not over, and it’s important to recognize that,” said Jay Butler, M.D., CDC’s deputy director of infectious diseases and COVID-19 response incident manager. “The good news is, nationally, we have been successful in flattening the curve. The number of new cases each day has been relatively plateaued over a prolonged period of time. But right now communities are experiencing different levels of transmission and this is occurring as they gradually ease up on some of the community mitigation efforts and gradually reopen.”
“We recognize we’re all getting tired of staying at home. People long for the life that they had back in December,” he said. “And as we head into the summer months, we know Americans will be looking forward to reconnecting with family and friends and looking to attend events, and we want that to occur as safely as possible.”
The guidance for both individuals and event planners advises them to understand the chances of transmission rise as the number of people interacting at an event increases and as the length of time they are interacting increases. The higher the level of community transmission in an area where a gathering is being held, the higher the risk of transmission, they said.
Those hosting guests at their home should remind guests who've felt ill in the last 14 days to stay home and try to host the gathering outdoors or in a well-ventilated room. Chairs and tables should be arranged to allow social distancing, and guests should be encouraged to wear face masks.
“The whole goal is to keep that curve as flattened as possible and to delay the onset of new cases for two reasons,” Butler said. “We want to make sure critical infrastructure that’s important for societal function as well as the availability of healthcare services is maintained and that none of these services are overwhelmed by a sudden increase in the number of cases."
DoH announces partnership with General Healthcare Resources
Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine today announced a partnership with General Healthcare Resources to assist with the COVID-19 response.
“We are so pleased to have this level of collaboration and assistance from General Healthcare Resources,” Dr. Levine said. “COVID-19 is a particularly challenging situation for congregate settings, particularly our long-term care facilities. These teams are assisting us in our response in the hardest-hit areas as we work to protect the public health and safety of Pennsylvanians.
General Healthcare Resources will be deploying onsite assessment teams to assist with infection control practices, staffing and PPE training needs. The team will also assist with specimen collection and urgent staffing needs. The Department of Health will be funding the 41 individuals that will be deployed for one year.
“We’re honored to be supporting this program and are committed to providing the state of Pennsylvania with the professional, qualified staff they need to meet this challenge within the senior community,” said Laura Magner, President and COO of General Healthcare Resources. “If you’re an experienced RN, LPN, Medical Assistant, CNA, EMT or other healthcare professional interested in joining this effort, please contact us at 800-879-4471.”
In addition to General Healthcare Resource’s support, the department has also been working with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Since May 20, HHS assessment and action teams have been providing onsite support and training to long-term care facilities in the commonwealth.
More drive-through testing sites added this week
Governor Wolf announced that beginning Wednesday, June 17, nine more COVID-19 drive-thru testing sites will open in Walmart parking lots across the state, bringing the total to 19 sites at Walmart locations. Quest Diagnostics and Walmart are working with the department to provide no-cost testing for residents living in areas where there are fewer testing sites. Another testing site has also been added in Venango County, which previously had only one site, bringing the total of new testing sites to 10.
Beginning June 17 these sites will be open on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. to test up to 50 registered patients daily. Registration is required one day in advance. There is no COVID-19 testing inside Walmart stores or Quest Diagnostics Patient Service Centers.
The testing sites that will open on Wednesday include:
- Walmart Supercenter parking lot, 1887 Elmira St, Sayre, PA
- Walmart Supercenter parking lot, 1665 N Atherton St, State College, PA
- Walmart Supercenter parking lot, 108 Washington Towne Blvd N, Edinboro, PA
- Walmart Supercenter parking lot, 2501 W State St, New Castle, PA
- Walmart Supercenter parking lot, 1566 W Main Street Ext, Grove City, PA
- Walmart Supercenter parking lot, 9300 State Route 61, Coal Township, PA
- Walmart Supercenter parking lot, 980 N Susquehanna Trail, Selinsgrove, PA
- Walmart Supercenter parking lot, 120 AJK Blvd, Lewisburg, PA
- Walmart Supercenter parking lot, 1169 South Main St, Mansfield, PA
Registrants will be notified of a testing location within a 50-mile radius of them with available appointment times. Patients schedule an appointment time, print a voucher and bring the voucher to the location with them to their appointment. Patients will receive an email with their test results within 24-48 hours, and physicians will call any patient who has a positive test result.
UPMC Northwest also opened a COVID-19 testing site in Venango County, where there is currently only one other testing site. The new site is located at 1671 Allegheny Blvd, Reno, PA, and is open each week, Tuesday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. by appointment only. To schedule an appointment at this location, call 1-833-559-7680.
Testing is now accessible for Pennsylvanians at select Rite Aid, CVS, Patient First, Walmart and other facilities for symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals. More information about these testing sites and others, including a map of the sites available in Pennsylvania, are listed on the department’s website.