March 26 Pennsylvania COVID-19 Update
The PA Department of Health reported that as of midnight March 25, Pennsylvania had its highest percentage climb during the past 24 hours for confirmed COVID-19 cases. Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said PA had 1,687 total positive tests, with 560 new positives in the prior 24 hours. That’s a 49.6 percent increase in one day. Cases have now been reported in 48 counties (four new counties since yesterday) and there have been at least 16 deaths (five since yesterday) with 68% of those deaths in adults over 65. A total of 16,441 patients tested negative.
Dr. Levine said that 46 percent of cases are 50 and older, but that 39 percent of cases are between the ages of 25 and 49 and 12 percent are between 19 and 24 years of age. She said “It’s very important younger adults not be complacent about their susceptibility.”
PA has had 170 hospitalizations – approximately 10% of those tested positive, consistent with other states; To date, 56 of those hospitalized required ICU treatment and 32 required use of ventilators; of those, 46% are over 65, many with chronic conditions.
Capacity of the Health System
Dr. Rachel Levine, State Secretary of Health, said that Pennsylvania currently has 3,400 licensed ICU beds with about 40% available. There are about 3,000 ventilators available in use and in stockpiles with 75% available. We had about 1,000,000 N-95 masks, at start, and getting more, purchasing whatever is available in terms of PPE. Hospitals at the time are about 40 percent filled with various types of patients.
As for PPE stores – Dr. Levine said the Commonwealth has distributed 678,630 N-95 masks, 207,600 procedure masks, 380,000 pairs of gloves, 36,870 gowns and 44,000 goggles and other face protection. She said the state is getting more PPE from the federal government, and that PA continues to scour the state and country for more.
Governor Wolf said Thursday that he hopes to set up the provisions for the state’s newly passed $50 million emergency health care fund quickly.
He acknowledged the front line medical workers and said he’d continue to seek beds, equipment to care for patients, personal protective equipment and that funding won’t be enough if we don’t succeed in flattening the curve. The Governor thanked medical professionals fighting this on the front lines and urged the public to thank them through our actions, staying home and staying safe. He said, “Act as if we ALL have it.”
Procurement Web Portal Opened
Later Thursday afternoon, the Governor announced the creation of a new web portal to expedite the procurement of critical medical supplies for Pennsylvania’s health care system during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Critical Medical Supplies Procurement Portal was developed through a joint effort between the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Health, the Department of General Services, and the Department of Community and Economic Development to source the most needed supplies for medical providers, emergency responders, and health care professionals.
The Portal is for manufacturers, distributors and other suppliers to inform us of supplies available for purchase and will allow us to more quickly and efficiently procure these supplies for hospitals and medical facilities across Pennsylvania.
Links for the Expansion of Supply Chain Capacity and Manufacturing Innovation and Donations will also be available very soon for those organizations who want to let the Commonwealth know their expanded supply chain and manufacturing capacity or to donate goods and services for distribution across Pennsylvania.
Wolf said the most needed personal protective equipment (PPE) includes: surgical/procedure masks, N95/N99 Form Fitting Respirators, face masks with integrated shields, Powered Air Purifying Respirators (PAPR), and alcohol-based hand rubs. Needed hospital supplies include: ventilators with PEEP functionality, ventilator circuits, endotracheal tubes, and hospital gowns. Needed lab supplies include: UVT 3 mL with flocked flex minitip and Nasopharyngeal (NP) flocked swabs and viral transport media tubes (1-3 mL). Needed diagnostic supplies include: Roche MagNA Pure 96 DNA and Viral NA small volume kits, Roche MagNA Pure 96 system fluid and tips, Roche MagNA Pure 96 external lysis buffer, and Biomerieux NuciSENS EasyMAG extraction system and supplies.
The Department of Labor & Industry said that 650,000 Pennsylvanians have filed UC claims as a result of business cutbacks among COVID-19 non life-sustaining businesses, and the Governor said he expected that by tomorrow, that number will be 800,000. Pennsylvania accounts for more than 10% of all UC claims in the US. The Governor said that the state being deemed a disaster area is dependent on the severity of the crisis, and while he’s not sure what the precise definition is, he said we have not yet reached that threshold.
A coalition of 34 provider groups, including PA-ACP, sent a joint letter to the General Assembly on Thursday thanking them for the $50 million in initial emergency health care funding, and asking for further significant and direct allocation of financial resources to support health care and human service workers on the front line.
The State House and Senate which passed four COVID-19 related bills this week in historic remote voting sessions, are recessed at the call of the Speaker and President Pro Tempore, and unless called sooner, will return to session on April 6. The Governor is expected to have signed all four bills by Friday afternoon.