May 8 (afternoon) Pennsylvania COVID-19 Update

Below:

  • Governor  announces 13 new counties moving
  • Daily COVID-19 data update
  • Q/A’s with Governor Wolf and Sec. Levine

 
Governor announces 13 more counties moving to yellow phase
The Governor said today that the state would continue to gauge how much movement an area can tolerate before the COVID-19 becomes a threat in making decisions about transitioning counties from red to the yellow phase.  He said, “We are watching that carefully.” 
 
Governor Wolf this afternoon announced that he has approved 13 southwestern counties (Allegheny, Armstrong, Bedford, Blair, Butler, Cambria, Fayette, Fulton, Greene, Indiana, Somerset, Washington and Westmoreland) to move from the red to yellow phase under his reopening ill move to “yellow” on May 15.
 
“Yellow still means caution,” he said.  “We are looking at nearby counties and if trends continue, they should be moving to yellow soon as well.  Today we have provided guidance and an FAQ sheet for those making the transition.  Thank you all for your hard work.”
 
PA COVID-19 DATA UPDATE
On Friday, the Department of Health reported that Pennsylvania had found 1,323 new confirmed positive cases in the previous 24 hours, for a total of 54,238 confirmed cases.    
 
The death total rose to 3,616 confirmed COVID-19 deaths, an increase of 200 from Thursday’s report, all in adult patients.  2,355 of the state’s deaths, more than 65 percent, were nursing home residents.  There were 216,231 negative tests in PA as of midnight Thursday night.
 
At least 3, 553 health care workers – accounting for about six percent of all positive cases; the total figure includes 1,542 workers in nursing homes. And 10,919 cases – accounting for 19 percent of all cases- are in 522 of the state’s long-term care living facilities in 44 counties.  It also includes 2,122 positive cases in workers in the food processing industry in 127 facilities statewide.
 
Two percent of hospitalizations were under 29 years of age, five percent were 30-49, 10% were 50-64, 20% were 65-79 and 19% were 80+.  The remainder were unclassified yet per age.
 
Of the total through Thursday, 29,598 positive cases (55%) were female and 24,025 (44%) were male. One percent (615)  were unreported or neither.  Among the deaths, 1,800 (50%) were males 1,800 (50%) were female with 16 unreported by sex.
 
By race, 12,792 positives were Caucasian (24%), 6,106 were African-American (11%) and 655 (1%) were Asian, with 271  listed as “Other.”  The vast majority, 34,414 (63% of all cases) remained unreported on the race of the patient.  A total of 1,316 deaths were among Caucasian victims, 356 were African American/Black, 39 were Asian and 11 were listed as other.  1,867 deaths (51%) weren’t reported by race.
 
On Friday at noon,  2,702 positive patients were hospitalized, about six percent of those testing positive.  At that time, 507 were using ventilators and 20on ECMO machines.  About 1,313 (39%) of the 5,199  intensive care unit (ICU) beds were available, 6,408 general medical beds (45%) were available and 1,567 (53%) of the airborne isolation rooms are still available statewide.  And 1,443 of the state’s 5,333 ventilators were in use (nearly 73% of ventilators were still available.) 
 
Of the patients who tested positive to date the age breakdown was: less than 1% are aged 0-4; less than 1% are aged 5-12; 1% are aged 13-18; 6% are aged 19-24; 37% are aged 25-49; 26% are aged 50-64; and 28% are aged 65 or older. 
 
Levine said that the next phase of reopening includes dentists and dental offices to provide non-urgent care, under guidelines established today.  Can provide treatment only if PPE and procedures approved by SHA are worn by the entire team and CDC precautions are taken.  This is not a return to full dentistry, but a way to open these offices for some dental services.
 
QUESTIONS WITH GOVERNOR WOLF AND DR. LEVINE:
Conor Lamb is calling for an investigation of Brighton rehab and the state’s response What do  you say, and will you send in the national guard?  LEVINE: We are doing everything we can do to help the patients and staff. We have spoken with the Congressman and we share his concerns for pats and staff.  We have put in a temporary manager at that facility.
 
Is the state backing away from the 50/100000 guideline? LEVINE: We haven’t backed away, and we realize people have latched onto that quantitative factor, but there are other data we are looking at, including modeling, support systems, lab testing and contact tracing.  Qualitative and subjective factors.  We have begun discussions with Phila Health Commissioner in terms of that and discussions will continue.
 
Wyoming County has  20 cases for only 30,000  do the data justify keeping them in red for another month?  LEVINE: We will be looking at data day by day and week by week at those numbers and when they may go
 
Do you have any specifics on guidelines for Childcare info?  LEVINE:  That is all on the guidance we published today.
 
How did you come up with the limitation on gatherings of 25?  LEVINE:  We met with epidemiologists and determined that was the best number to use.
 
Chester County became the first county doing antibody testing today. They said they were ready to implement a month ago but the DoH wouldn’t give them a green light.  Why not?  LEVINE:  There are a number of testing laboratories, and questions are over who would do the testing and FDA approvals. 
How reliable are the tests they are doing?  I don’t know the granularity of the tests they are using, there have been many antibody tests that have come into the market and want to be sure everyone is using good tests.  And we don’t know what finding those antibodies mean – there’s more info coming out about that every day. We’ll soon know more.
 
Governor – why the decision to push to June 4 rather than on a weekly basis?  We thought another month would make the most sense?  WOLF: Is it based on the metric of 50/100000?  If that’s met before June 4, will it change?  We are looking at a whole host of things and trying to figure out the best way to keep people safe.  Most Pennsylvanians haven’t been through something like this before and looking at a variety of issues till we think things are ready to reopen.  We are just making the best judgment we can.  “We thought another month made sense.”
 
By extending till June 4 will there be special exemptions for the elections assuming they are held June 2.  WOLF: We are lucky in PA that we can vote by mail.  We’ve already had 1 million requests, and that is the safest way to vote.  If you don’t want to do that, you can go vote.
 
Why is real estate still closed when other states have reopened it?  WOLF:  We’re trying to keep people from congregating. The virus is the enemy, not regulations, not the government.  Most Pennsylvanians want to stay safe.  The more we do the sooner we will be free.
 
Some restaurant owners say they plan to reopen despite regulations.  What will you do about that? WOLF:  I understand the frustrations, but the frustration has to be directed at the real enemy – the virus. Not matter what we do, we’re making it easier for the virus to attack and infect more people.  We don’t want to have their health and welfare on our hands.  It’s not about regulations or what you want to do.  We can’t go back to January.  Anything we do that jeopardizes anybody’s’ life is not going to be helpful.
 
What fines or criminal penalties would people face?  Those owners have to ask, “Do we want to jeopardize the lives of our employees and customers?  State police have issued a number of warnings, and you can go to L&&I, DOS and file a complaint. The bus owner has to make the decision of
whether they want the lives of their employees and customers on their hands.
 
Beaver County officials are upset by how they have been treated and that state has dismissed the fact that most of their positive sand deaths are in one location. What do you say to them? WOLF:  Yeah, we know and there are a number of o counties that are in that situations.  If we have nay concerns, we will go slower on reopening.  It is frustrating to be closed down, but remedy is not to ignore that the virus is out there.  The remedy is to do as best we can.
 
County Officials there say they will act as if the county is in yellow and the DA will not enforce the orders. What do you say?  WOLF: I say you are jeopardizing lives.  In our opinion the time is not right today to announce they are ready to? reopen and taking a chance with the lives of the people of Beaver county.
 
Do you have any response to the reopening protest in Phila today?  Any cases relating to protest in Harrisburg a couple weeks ago?  WOLF: No I understand the frustration but it’s the virus that’s the issue, not the regulations or the government.
 
Are you looking to open barber shops, nail salons?  WOLF:  No we’re not.  We can’t let our frustration let us ignore the virus is out there.  I share the frustration, but the solution is to keeping people safe so we an reopen as soon as we can.
 
What rules must customers live by in re-entering stores?  WOLF:  I can’t remember all those guidelines, but we sent out an FAQ sheet.
 
Your executive order giving immunity to health care workers  didn’t offer similar protections to hospitals and nursing homes?  Do you want to do that ?  WOLF:  We have brought a lot of people out of retirement and I wanted to bring limited protection to those folks. This doesn’t protect you if you are doing something foolish – I wanted to give those folks some protection.
 
LEVINE:  New data from CDC shows PA has reported only about half of its confirmed deaths to CDC what is causing this specific delay?  LEVINE:  I’ll make sure our staff looks at that closely and is reported
 
Are today’s increases due to the “data dump”?  LEVINE:  Yes, we did get another data dump today and we’re in the middle of a major reconciliation with Philadelphia to reconcile the date as much as we can – may take another week?
 
How long ago were those samples taken? LEVINE: In the case of Phila, its about two weeks. Some from LabCorp at least several days or a week or more.
 
Yesterday’s senate hearing focused on SNFs not getting PPE, and prisons testing everyone.  What is the priority. LEVINE:  Any symptomatic patient and staff member is being tested immediately.  The idea of doing surveillance testing – we have heard that recommendation , other states are discussing that and looking at best way from public health standpoint.  
 
This week’s numbers re high from a backlog – do you expect the total to get much higher in the coming weeks?  LEVINE: There might be some fluctuations due to data but when we are done,
 
Any cases linked to the protest in Harrisburg last month?  LEVINE: I was very concerned about the lack of social distancing – from across the common and other states.  We don’t know how many we re infected as a result.
 
Matt Cartwright sent letter to be sure hospital workers can get at least 1 N95 mask each day?? LEVINE: We just contacted temple and Einstein and they say they are fine, but we’ll make sure we do everything we can to protect them.
 
What do the NE numbers look like and how long will they have to wait to transition to yellow?  LEVINE: It could be significant amount of time…Lehigh, Luzerne, Northampton are serious concern.  We’re going to be watching the data very closely – we are pleased to discuss with our colleagues in the northeast as well.
 
Dauphin County prison just tested its entire population.  Was that smart?  LEVINE:  I don’t have any granular detail of what Dauphin County prison does.  They are not under the Department of Corrections.  It’s an interesting way of testing.  It’s different.  It doesn’t mean that if you are negative today, you’ll be negative tomorrow.  Interesting to see what they do with those results
 
WOLF:  Have you or the Lt. Governor been tested? What are you doing to maintain physical and emotional health? – WOLF: I have not been tested and I enjoy reading books.
 
Are the numbers lower than projected? Are you satisfied?  WOLF: I have no satisfaction. It’s a frustrating time and yes, the number of deaths is lower than we protected.  We are dealing with a lot of unknowns and stress – satisfaction is not one of the things I’m feeling right now.
 
Does your eviction order apply to commercial tenants? No it was focused on residents and renters, but there are all kinds of things banks have done to help landlords of commercial properties and should make them more comfortable
 
Do businesses have to temperature test their employees?   WOLF:  I forget but look at the FAQs.  To the extent it may make every business owner should want to do that from the start.
 
Will you comply with the Senate’s subpoena deadline?  WOLF:  We will comply with a letter to the Senate today.