March 23 COVID-19 Update – Pennsylvania American College of Physicians

March 23 Pennsylvania COVID-19 Update

The Commonwealth today reported Pennsylvania now has 644 coronavirus cases, with 165 new cases reported today. Six deaths have been attributed to COVID-19 in Pennsylvania, and cases have now been confirmed in 34 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties. The bulk of the cases are in the Philadelphia area but more cases are being reported in western Pa. and in the northeastern region of the state as testing expands.
This afternoon, Governor Wolf added three more counties to his “stay at home” orders – Philadelphia, Allegheny and Monroe, which join Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery Counties.  The seven counties have more than 4 million residents – almost one-third of the state’s population.
Clarification of the impact of the “stay at home” status is available online.  Note that this does not include travel to perform work providing essential products and services at a life-sustaining business. The Governor said that more than 10,000 companies had requested waivers under the life-sustaining business orders, and that 2,000 had been granted.  He said requests had spiked today with implementation of his orders at 8 a.m.
The Governor also ordered all PA K-12 schools be closed for another two weeks, through April 6.
The Department of Health noted that nothing in the orders should be construed to affect the operations of health care or medical service providers.  A COVID-19 Fact Sheet for Health Care Facility employees is also available on line.
For Opioid Treatment Providers (OPTs), DDAP requested blanket exceptions to SAMHSA regarding OTP prescribing practices for take-home medications within the commonwealth. The following blanket exceptions are approved by SAMHSA:
1. For patients who are stable, OTPs may prescribe take-home doses of up to 28 days.
2. For patients who are less than stable but the physician believes can safely handle take-home medication, OTPS may prescribe take-home doses up to 14 days.
Providers implementing these waivers must notify DDAP and provide policies that have been updated to reflect these changes. Contact the Division of Drug and Alcohol Program Licensing at (717) 783-8675 or
DDAP today also posted information for individuals with substance use disorders, including links to online recovery meetings and other online resources for providers.
It was reported at noontime (and confirmed by the Governor’s Office) that Wolf was tested and found negative for the virus after the Governor’s Office was contacted by someone who had been near Wolf and who was showing symptoms of the illness.  Later this afternoon, the Governor’s Office formally walked that statement back and denied that he had been tested