Wolf warns hospitals at risk, mulls new virus restrictions
So it was two weeks ago that Dr Levin and I stood at this podium and we both warned all of us, all of us, the people of Pennsylvania and everybody about the seriousness once again of the co vid 19 epidemic. The surge that we’re all experiencing right now in Pennsylvania. We warned at that point that the Commonwealth is in precarious place, the numbers of cases rising, hospitalizations rising, deaths rising. And we warned that substantial community spread was already at that point, affecting Pennsylvanians. Most of the counties actually all across Pennsylvania, and that if Pennsylvanians, if we did not act immediately to change our behavior, things would get dramatically worse in the coming weeks. And that’s why we put into place back then the additional mitigation measures to help slow the spread of Kobe 19. Well, over the course of the past two weeks, unfortunately, Pennsylvania’s situation has become even more dire. And I find myself here sand things. I really, really wish I didn’t have to say. If we don’t slow the spread of this dangerous virus now, if we don’t do this, the reality is that Cove in 19 will overwhelm our hospitals, will overwhelm our health care systems, and that’s dangerous. As I said before, That is dangerous for everyone who needs medical medical care in the hospital for any reason. Because it stretches. Our resource is, and it stretches the staffs of these institutions to the breaking point. That’s dangerous for everyone who needs medical care, whether you’re in the hospital for Covad, 19 or for any other reason, staff who have already experienced the daily exhaustion of caring for critically ill patients while also worrying about their own health care and the health of their families. Uh, this is just taking everything that we have in our health care system is stretching it to the limits. Several counties in the northern part of the state have reported already that they have very few. I see I see you beds, intensive care unit beds that remain open. The Tribune Review reported on Saturday that a nurse at UPMC Allatoona described the atmosphere in the intensive care unit there, uh, and throughout the Southwest by saying, and this is a quote, it’s like you step onto a treadmill and you’re going, you’re going the whole time. You’re they’re basically 13 hours. You’re on fast forward, crowded conditions and dwindling resource is are a reality in hospitals all across the Commonwealth, and so our staffing shortages due to increase patient needs and medical workers who are falling ill themselves. Dr. Levin announced last week that several hospitals in the Southwest and the south central region of the state anticipated staffing shortages that could occur within this week. An emergency physician in Philadelphia recently wrote for the inquire about the fact that this pandemic has put a strain on both the physical and emotional well being of doctors, nurses and hospital staff. And doctors and nurses who treat covert patients are also at increased risk of contracting the virus itself. The International Council of Nurses recently announced the sad news that more nurses have died from Cove in 19 than died during World War One. As cases and hospitalizations continue to rise, this strain on hospital resource is and hospital staff increases exponentially, as does the risk of overburdening and overwhelming the people and institutions on the front line. In this fight against the pandemic, well, the Pennsylvania Department of Health and all of Pennsylvania’s health systems and hospitals collaborate regionally to share resource is and to try to ensure the best possible care for every patient. Their task is made immeasurably more difficult by the fact that Cove in 19 is spreading dangerously everywhere in the Commonwealth. Whenever you region in the state, in every health system, every hospital they all need the same resource is the same number of staff, the same life saving machines medications. There’s really nothing left to share when things get worse and things are getting worse. Right now, collaboration between hospitals and doctors does save lives, but it’s getting harder and harder right now because of the overwhelming number of patients who need treatment for severe cases of Kobe 19. To make this collaboration. Working together possible point is when patients need more specialized treatment than one facility can offer, they often need to be transferred to a larger facility with more capacity to handle complex cases. That’s true for Kobe 19, but it’s also true for patients in other critical conditions, including heart failure, influenza, stroke, pneumonia, sepsis and a whole host of other serious medical ailments. Pennsylvania’s hospitals air already running low and I see you beds due to Kobe 19. What that means is that there are fewer resource is to go around for the sickest Pennsylvania’s whatever sickness that you’re suffering. Already. We’re hearing stories about hospitals forced to divert patients toe other treatment facilities because of full emergency rooms and overwhelming needs. If co vid cases continue to grow at the same rate, they’re growing now. Demand for hospital beds and resource is will continue to grow and could overwhelm our hospitals and our health care workers. If that happens, it will affect everyone who needs emergency care and again, not just the covert patients. It will affect all aspects of emergency care and all aspects of our healthcare system’s ability to respond. So if you and this is my fellow Pennsylvanians, if you or a loved one need emergency care for a heart attack or other unexpected emergency, it could take much longer than usual for emergency response personnel to get to you. And then you could be turned away from the hospital closest to your home. If your hospital, your local hospital, is out of beds and what happens if there’s simply no more beds, no more ventilators available? If the worst happens, hospitals will not be able to treat all sick Pennsylvanians. They’ll be forced to turn away people who need treatment, and that means more Pennsylvanians will die. Pennsylvania’s who would not have died if they had been able to get the care and need they deserve. If our hospitals are overwhelmed, people who might have survived serious illnesses, they’ll die. This dangerous and disturbing scenario is not only possible, it becomes increasingly likely with every day that covert continues to spread in Pennsylvania. It’s hard to believe yet it’s true and that it’s simply unacceptable. All year long, we have been trying to prevent our hospitals and health care systems from being overwhelmed. And that’s the reason why we can allow cannot allow our friends, our neighbors and family members to be struck down because of this virus, especially when a widely available vaccine is just likely months away. Right now, we all need to take a hard look at our choices and our actions and take every precaution to protect our neighbors, our families and our friends. This is really up to each and every one of us. Doctors and nurses are frightened right now, and they’re asking the public for help, asking all of us for help to stop this spread of cove it We cannot continue to take our medical workers for granted. The staff of hospitals and medical facilities have been doing everything in their power to protect us from Kobe. 19. We need to do the same for them. We can stop the spread of cove in 19 if we work together, so please stay home. If you don’t, unless you need to go out, stay home. Second, do not attend gatherings with people outside your household. And third, if you need to leave home, please wear a mask. We can prevent that worst case scenario from becoming reality, but that means all of us all 13 million Pennsylvania’s have to take this virus seriously. We have to commit to protecting one another until the vaccine becomes widely available. If you didn’t know before how urgent the situation is, please pay attention. Now we must stop the spread of Kobe 19. And to do that, we have toe all act now. Now I’m going to turn this over to nurse Maureen Casey. Hershey Hilson, Maureen. Apologies. Thank you, Governor Wolf. I cannot stress how exhausting it is. Taking care of the cove in patients that we have a Hershey Medical center. Um, nurses Air tired. Uh, Pennsylvanians did a fabulous job in the spring of flattening the curve, and what we feared then did not occur. But it is occurring now, and like waves on the shore, it just keeps coming. Nurses go home cry in the shower, crying their car alone Because of the desperation and exhaustion, they feel a za nurse. We just have one simple ask. Please wear a mask. It’s a simple thing, but it gets the job done. We are taking care of patients were quickly becoming overrun. Our hospital is that capacity already. Flu season truly hasn’t even started yet, and the co vid patients just keep coming, and we just We just need people toe, wear a mask and help us control and flatten the curve again. The way we did in the spring together is the only way we can get through this by wearing masks is the big ass that we have as a nurse. And thank you, Governor Wolf. Thank you, marine and way again as Marine set, we all have a basic role to play in keeping this virus from overwhelming our health care system each and every one of us. Now, I’d like to turn this over to Secretary of Health Dr Rachel Being Toby. Thank you, Governor. As the governor has highlighted, we remain extremely concerned about the number of people hospitalized due to Cova. 19, 5421 individuals are hospitalized due to Covad, 19 in Pennsylvania. As of noon today, 1115 of those patients are in the intensive curing it, and 614 of those patients are on a ventilator or breathing machine. The trend in the 14 day moving average off the number of hospitalized patients per day has increased by 4000 since the end of September. Many hospitals across the state either have few. I seabeds. I see you beds or in some cases, no, I see you beds. This is a significant challenge for our health care system in Pennsylvania and one that actually our health care system has never faced before. Today we are reporting 6330 new cases of Cove in 19, and there were 8630 new cases on Sunday. Thes numbers bring the total number of covert 19 patients in Pennsylvania. Since the beginning of the pandemic to 426,444 of our total cases, the number of people who have recovered from Cove in 19 has decreased to now 58%. 42 new deaths were reported today and 69 new deaths were reported on Sunday, and our total number of deaths attributed to covert 19 is 11,000 373 individuals. In the last week alone, we have reported close to 1000 new desks across Pennsylvania due to Cove in 19, and now, sadly, we have seen deaths from Cove in 19 in every county in Pennsylvania. We also watched the statewide percent positivity rate on the early warning monitoring dashboard, and that is nearly at 14.5% statewide. Every single county in Pennsylvania now has a percent positivity above that cut off of 5% and nine counties have a percent positivity above 20%. Throughout the pandemic, there now have been 32,350 cases of covert, 19 in school age Children ages 5 to 18. More than 8600 of those have been in the last two weeks alone. In a moment, you will hear from Deputy Secretary Ray Barrett Sanski regarding our efforts to respond to influenza as well as Cove in 19. We are fortunate that we have not seen many flu cases this season so far. However, when someone is hospitalized for influenza for the flu, they need much of the same resource is that are needed to treat patients with covert 19. They’re both very contagious respiratory viruses. That is why we all need to take a look and to analyze what we are doing and how our actions impact the entire community. What this virus has taught us is that we are all interconnected, and there are some activities that air just not safe now. Because of this global pandemic, activities like spending time indoors with people who are not masked, spending long periods of time indoors with people who do not live in your household, even if they are wearing a mask, we all need to answer the call to wear a mask, stay home, wash our hands and social distance. We all need to literally answer the call and answer the phone. If someone calls us who’s a contact tracer that’s reaching out to you, please be honest. Answer the questions. You might save a life of someone you know, or maybe someone that you don’t know. As our community joins forces to Fight Cove in 19, we must stand united and please remember, always stay calm, stay alert and stay safe. And now I would like to introduce Ray Barrett Sanski, deputy secretary for health preparedness and community protection within the Department of Health, to talk about influenza Deputy secretary. Thank you for that introduction. Secretary Levine, as Dr Levin just said, We have a thorough update now of our substantial co vid 19 data increases co vid 19 cases are at an all time high and we cannot afford to have a flu epidemic in Pennsylvania. In the middle of this global pandemic, the best way we can protect each other is by working together. The 2020 2021 flu season is underway across Pennsylvania and across the United States. At this time, flu activity is low across the Commonwealth. Influenza A and B have both been identified. A strains of the virus circulating in Pennsylvania through laboratory testing. As of Tuesday, November 28th, there have been 480 laboratory confirmed flu cases and one flu associated deaths statewide. To date, the department has not reported county case counts for flu. If cases increased to a level that protects patient privacy, then county level data will be updated on the website. The first death that we reported was during our update of data on November 10th and this individual was in the 50 to 64 year old age group. The percent of outpatient hospital visits associated with influenza like illness has been low and it’s still below the state epidemic threshold. To date, a total of 12 influenza associated hospitalizations have been reported in P. A. During our current flu season. We update our flu data on health dot p a dot gov every Tuesday Throughout the flu season, thes data updates provide a summary on when and where flu activity is occurring. Current trends in flu as compared to previous seasons what types and subtypes of influenza viruses are currently circulating. Please also know that our departments epidemiologists continue to monitor flu activity. We are prepared to stand up a multidisciplinary working group comprised of both internal and external partners to quickly respond to any increases in flu activity over the coming winter months. Internally, this working group in the past has seen people from our Bureau of Epidemiology, our state laboratory, our Bureau of a Communicable Diseases, our Bureau of Public Health Preparedness and our Office of Communications all coming together to work as a team. And externally, we have had members of the Hospital on Health System Association of Pennsylvania or Hap, the Pennsylvania Medical Society and the Pennsylvania chapter of the American Academy of Pediatricians. This working group is prepared to discuss flu trends as well. It was what we’re seeing specifically here in Pennsylvania and any relevant guidance from the federal government. You can work with us as well if you have not already done so. Please get your flu vaccine today. It is safe to go to your doctor’s office pharmacy, local walk in clinic or grocery store to get your flu vaccine in the form of a shot or nasal spray, please talk to your health care provider to see which flu vaccine is best for you. There are also seasonal flu clinics distributing the flu shot to anyone aged three or older to protect against the flu. And actually, tomorrow December 8th, there’s a drive thru clinic being held in Bethlehem City at the Lehigh River Port garage from four PM to six PM Ah, full list of our upcoming flu clinics can be found at health dot p a dot gov. We recommend you getting your vaccine now before the flu activity peaks in your community and certainly before the end of the year. If you have already gotten your flu vaccine this year, thank you for helping Pennsylvanians State protected together. Remember, getting a flu vaccine will not only just help keep you from getting severely ill, but it also protect your family, friends, health care providers and others who already strained and exhausted from caring from our record numbers of covered 19 patients. Ultimately, getting a flu vaccine will protect all those you may come in contact with this season. Additional ways to work with us include following mitigation orders and guidance from Secretary Levin and Governor Wolf. Cover your coughs and sneezes with your elbow and please continue to wear a mask. Clean surfaces frequently, particularly those that are touched frequently, such as door knobs, countertops, remote controls or even your phone. Contain viruses by staying home if you’re sick and please continue wearing a mask and social distancing. And lastly, please download the covert alert. A app to your phone to assist us in our collective fight against Cove in 19. The safety and health of Pennsylvanians remains our number one concern. Let’s stay protected together. And with that, I’d like to welcome Governor Wolf back up to the podium. Toe. Open up for questions, Governor. Thank you, Ray. Again, The point all of us were making is Pennsylvania. We have a problem, and we have to work together to address this pandemic. So thank you both. So when we open up to questions Thank you, Governor. Our first question is, from from Dave in quartz from the Beaver County Times. Go ahead, Devin. All right. Can you hear me now? Hello? Hello. Okay. Thank you so much. My first questions for you, Governor. Um, we heard that over the weekend Dr Burke’s had asked states to increase mitigation because this week and next are going to be so concerning for a surge. Um, because of Thanksgiving with hospital seeing more and more patients. Why is the state not following that advice or will? Are you intending, Thio Sometime soon? Well, two things. First of all, a week and a half ago, we actually did step up our mitigation efforts. But this is something we we look at every day and over the weekend the numbers really did rise alarmingly, uh, whatever we end up doing and we will make decisions soon. But whatever we do, all 13 million Pennsylvania’s We all have a shared responsibility to make this work and whatever the state does or whatever municipality does, uh pales in comparison with what each of us can do by simply wearing a mask, practicing social distancing and making sure that we’re not gathering together with other people when we don’t have to. So these are the kinds of things that that I think were important week and a half two weeks ago on they continue to be important. Now, as the numbers show, those things have not worked. We’re continuing to look at the numbers, and if we have to doom or we will, um and I guess this may be better for Dr Levin. Um, I had some questions. I had a follow up about the elective procedure. Dashboard? Yes. Please proceed. Eso Last week when we first saw this, we saw that the Keystone and the Southwest Uh, H ccs. We’re seeing some some concerns with staffing, and it looks like that’s getting better now. Has there been additional staffing brought in? What? What are we seeing that air while we’re seeing so many cases and hospitalizations going up that’s causing some of these numbers to stabilize now. So that’s the important thing about the dashboard is that it’s It’s supposed to trigger a response by the hospitals on a regional basis, and they can get more staff. They can share staff, and so they can adapt to the number of patients that are increasing. So you’re correct. Last week they had both triggered that metric, and this week that metric is better. But we do get reports from the hospitals on a much more granular basis on a much more detailed basis about all the different activities they have to do to take care of patients in terms of having patients potentially in the hallway about patients that have to wait in the emergency department and we get those every day. And so we can see on that report that the hospitals are strained, but they are coping there. Doing what we asked them to do is that they’re coping themselves and their collaborating on a regional basis to make sure that that they can take care of the cove in 19 patients and the other patients. The concern is that those numbers go up, as the governor has been discussing that it could be overwhelmed anyway. On the dashboard is a way for us to monitor that. Next up is Caitlin Sykes from W. T. A. Go ahead, Caitlyn. I also had a question about possible mitigation efforts in the state as the cases continue to rise and hospital hospitalizations increase. Is there any talk or consideration of putting more restrictions on restaurants or any kind of business as the holiday shopping season is here, or even possibly a shutdown in the state? So, as I said just a minute ago, we were looking at all kinds of things. The hope was that what we did, we can have. Two weeks ago, I was going to work on that. The numbers would not rise to the alarming levels they have risen to on DSO. We are looking at all sorts of issues right now and very shortly. We’ll come back with more recommendations. Thank you. Next up is Tyler Pratt from W L V R Tyler. Give me one second toe a mute you and go ahead. Good afternoon. My question is for Health Secretary Levine. Hi, Dr Levin. Nice to see you. We are getting reports of family members in a household that where someone has tested positive for Cova, 19 are told to assume that they have the virus and stay in How is the state accounting for those potential Koven numbers for people that may not be getting tested. So if someone is in a household with someone who has documented Cove in 19 and they are symptomatic with symptoms of covert 19, that’s an important distinction. Then they can be considered probable cases and they don’t have to be tested. If they’re not symptomatic, they’re not absolutely not considered. But if they have exactly the same symptoms and they’re in the same household is someone that has covert 19. Then we can consider them probable cases now, remember, in terms of making any specific decisions, we’re really concentrating on confirmed cases. But we do have probable cases as well. Next up is Mike. Ruben can from the Associated Press. Go ahead, Mike. Yeah. Hi. This question is for the governor. Um, Governor, you paid in a very dire picture of what Pennsylvania’s healthcare system is already facing and what it might be about to face. But, you know, as you said, you might be announcing new mitigation measures, but none today. So what gives you any confidence that your words today are going to move the needle in any way at all? When they did not two weeks ago? Actually, uh, the, uh As I said, we’re still looking at things that we could do in addition to what we’ve already done and very shortly will come up with those things. But I wanted to re emphasize today that the problem hasn’t gone away. I wanna make sure that I miss transparent is open a zai can. But I also want to bring us back to the fundamental issue here, which is that each and every one of us has to take this seriously. Uh, this is not gonna go away no matter what the state does. It’s not gonna go away if we rely solely on what municipalities do All of us are in this together on the state needs to do, uh, whatever it can. And we will continue to do that. And if we need to do more, we will. And we’ll be making that decision very shortly. Municipalities. Some have already announced summer also considering further further measures. But whatever all of us dio municipalities, state counties, whatever any of us do is still comes back down to each and every one of the 13 million. Pennsylvania is taking this seriously and taking every measure they can every step they can to keep us all safe. Next up is Bill O Boyle from the Wilkesboro, Times Leader. Go ahead, Bill. Okay, moving on. Jamie Bittner from Fox 43. Go ahead, Jamie. Hi. I have a two fold question for you, and I’m not sure if it’s the governor or the health secretary who might be better to answer this, But number one I know that. You said the hospitals are running low and I see you beds. Can you give us an update on ventilators and other PPE. Andi Also number two. Can you give us a little bit of an update on exactly what data is showing as faras, where people are contracting this? And if it’s tapping on holiday gatherings or more businesses for Jim’s sorts of businesses like that? We turned that over to Dr Levin. Well, thank you for those questions. In terms of ventilators, the state does have a very good supply of ventilators are hospitals and health systems have about 4000 arm or ventilators, and then we have 1000 or more ventilators in storage on DSA Mother types of breathing machines called by pat machines that we actually purchased in the spring. Eso we between their stores and our stores were really quite comfortable in terms of ventilator support. We are also quite comfortable at this time at this time in terms of personal protective equipment. Hospitals and health systems have their own stores. Um, long term care facilities have their stores, and we have quite robust stores. And the government, um for for Pennsylvania is the governor has alluded to before, but it’s not infinite. And if if the number of hospitalizations went up high enough and lasted long enough. Then there could be challenges. But right now, right now, we’re okay. And your second question again, please. Yeah, I’m sorry. I needed to amuse myself there. My second question was, What is the data showing you at this point on where people are contracting it the most? There is widespread community transmission throughout Pennsylvania. And so, you know, we’ve mentioned this before that when we had 12,700 cases on new Kate new cases on Saturday, it is impossible to do case investigations and contact tracing for that amount of people. And so we have to prioritize. And we do prioritize to nursing homes, Another long term care facilities. We prioritize for correctional institutions. We prioritized in schools and for seniors, but were not able to really get too much of the general population s. Oh, really? It is everywhere. Eso Any time that you are outside your home, there is a potential to to contract covert 19. Which is why we issued a stay at home advisory approximately two weeks ago. Um, now that risk is lessened. If you wear a mask, it’s lessened. If you wash your hands. It’s lessened if you social distance. But that is why we’re really asking people to avoid large gatherings, to avoid small gatherings and to do everything possible to stay at home. Now. That’s going to mean for the holidays that are upcoming for Christmas and Hanukkah and Kwanza and New Years that we do not want people to go out and celebrate. We do not want people to invite their friends and neighbors over to their home and have parties, and I know that that’s a sacrifice. But that’s what we have to do to stop the spread. Next up is Jim Millward from K Y W Does work radio? Go ahead, Jim. Uh, this question, I guess, is for both of you Governor primarily I I don’t mean to sound like a cynic, but we’ve kind of been hearing the same message, asking people to answer the call, do the right thing, but you lay out the hospitalization rates positivity rates the deaths on D. C. Contact tracing is lagging. Onley 665,000 downloaded the app as you’re asking them to do the right thing. So the question as are we as a commonwealth, just banging our head against the wall, hoping to get rid of a headache. Is it time to try something new or something more? Yeah, well again, way. We’re doing all these things, and I think a ZAY said we can have Two weeks ago, we actually did announce, uh, measures. We have measures that have been in place before that, Uh, your your point is a good one as to whether we need Thio Doom or and will be making that decision in the next few days. So I think we are trying things all the time. But again, as I said, it comes back to in addition to all those things that we can do in addition. So all those things that municipalities could dio, uh, each and every one of us has a responsibility, and I don’t think it’s banging our heads against the wall. I think it’s saying, you know, let’s recognize, maybe in a way that we didn’t that we are all in this together and we’re all sharing in the responsibility. This is not just one institution or one person. Eso No, it’s not banging her head against the wall. I think it’s recognizing that the Maybe the understanding of this doesn’t occur all at once. And everybody we have to keep preaching this gospel. But I think it’s important that whatever solution we come up with, whatever we do here at the state, it has to be accompanied by a recognition that we’re all shared. We all share responsibility for making this work. Next up is floor pasta reira from Penn Watch. Go ahead, Flora. Hi, Governor. This question is for you restaurants in the whole hospitality industry. His has already been struggling. And here we are in the holiday season and they’re missing out on a great deal of revenue with parties, Companies and businesses aren’t able to have their holiday parties. Is there anything that you could do? Or will you do on a statewide level to support these restaurants in the hospitality industry? Are there any resource is available to help them survive? Since we’re seeing so many of them closing? Yeah, well, Flora, that’s a really important point, as you know, back. And I think August back in the summer, I was already urging the General Assembly to use some of the unutilized cares act money. Uh, that now long no longer exists. Uh, toe actually target these businesses now. The point you make is a good one. Uh, this, uh, virus really does discriminate. It hits restaurants in the hospitality industry and another businesses who cater to folks who gather together for whatever reason, Uh, it is hardest on them on. It’s not the fault of the owners of these businesses. It’s not their fault that the virus actually likes the environment that thes businesses create. But that does create financial issues. And I think we do to the extent we can. I would like to find other means, uh, to help and support financially, the businesses that have been hit so hard by this virus. And there’s no question, as you point out, they have been hit hard. And as we move into the holiday season, uh, that really hard hit is gonna be even harder. The issue I think we all have toe think about is that’s the reality. The viruses out there, whether we like it and who does like this? We all hate it. It’s all we’re all frustrated by and fatigued by it. But this is the way the viruses and we need to recognize that the places where that virus can do its worst damage, we’ve got to figure out a way Thio shut those places that keep them from actually allowing that virus to do what it’s doing. At the same time, we’ve got to recognize the financial burden this places on businesses and individuals who have toe to face this. So your question is a good one on. I have already working on trying to find alternative ways Thio find financial support on. I will continue to do that. Next step is Paul. Go from the Pittsburgh Business Times. Go ahead, Paul. Yeah, Governor and Secretary. Libyan. Thank you for the time. Um, wanted to talk to you. Would these restrictions if you if you do decide to make them, um, would they be regional or statewide? And what would be? What sort of the rationale for looking at the data in the next couple of days to decide to do so well, Azaz you as you know, Paula Rachel talked about this too. But Aziz, you know the the the statistics change from day to day. That’s why we have a 14 day, seven day moving average on you. You can’t make decisions based on one days or even to day three days, Uh, results. We have expected a nup surge. We, I think have been surprised in the last few days Is to the the increase the rate of increase that we’ve seen. If this continues, that’s gonna call for one set of actions. Uh, if the data changes, you know, in the next couple days, we might have a different set of decisions to make. But I’m concerned, and I think all Pennsylvania should be concerned about what this means for for the health care system. Again, I keep saying this. We’re in a different situation now than we were back in in the spring. Our hospitals, health care systems, They’re in a much better place in terms of having another standing of the disease. They have equipment. They have some stockpiles they didn’t have before. I think they’re doing a better job of collaborating with each other, but there’s no question that they are in dire need of some assistance from Pennsylvania’s from all of us on. Uh, if we can’t change the curve fairly quickly, uh, then our health care system is gonna be overwhelmed and that’s gonna be bad for everybody. Secretary Rabin. Well, thank you, Governor. I would I would agree completely. I mean, the numbers that we were seeing at the end of last week were were quite, um, were quite significantly increased. We were seeing it 1st, 10,000 and then 11,000 new cases a day. And then by Saturday, almost 13,000 new cases a day. Now, now, Sunday, Monday are always are lower days. So we’re gonna see what happens over the next number of days. I mean, I think that this is due to two things. One is that the Midwest and the Mountain West has seen great increases. Uh, that has spread east and west. And so really, where you’re seeing increases now? Or Michigan, Ohio. And unfortunately, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Tennessee, etcetera. In addition, um, it’s been it’s been just about 10 days since Thanksgiving. And it looks like people certainly did travel over Thanksgiving and that there were probably mawr, um, receptions and parties and dinners than we had recommended. And so we’re seeing those increases. So, you know, we always see a decrease on Sunday. Monday just because of the weekend, we’re going to see what? The numbers are going forward this week. One follow up and thank you both for that is given, uh, you know, in terms of the, uh, the environment as it were. And then, uh, the district court ruling that’s in the court of appeals from here in Pittsburgh. Does any of that have any bearing on the decisions that you make? No. No. I think that we will make decisions based upon the needs of public health in Pennsylvania. And I I think that certainly the law is on our side. Next up is Bill Kibler from Al Toon America Ahead. Bill. Bill, go ahead. And, um, you yourself. Thank you. Sorry. I didn’t realize I had to meet myself. Um, are flu cases low during this flu season because of the precautions like mask wearing and social distancing for covert 19. Well, so this is really the beginning of the flu season. So flu season starts in may be October, primarily November into December, and then we see our peak in January and February, and then gradually it goes down in the spring. So we have not nearly seen our peak of influenza. However, the same measures that will protect you from covert 19 wearing a mask, social distancing, washing your hands. Avoiding gatherings will also protect you from influenza. Uh, they are different viruses, but they are both respiratory viruses, and they’re spread in the same way. Eso If people take the precautions that we’re talking about, it will protect them from the flu as well. However, as Deputy Secretary Barry Sanski said, the best way to protect yourself from the flu is we have a safe and effective vaccine flu shot that you can get almost anywhere you can goto pharmacy. You could go to probably a grocery store and be able to get a flu shot, and you could be protected against the flu. Our last question is from San Rule in from the York Daily Record. Say I’m go ahead and a mute yourself. Hello. My question is, and this might be for Governor Wolf and Dr Levin is just ask Governor Wolf said today how the situation is much dyer than two weeks ago. I know Dr Levin, you’ve been saying how there are no plans to go back to this red, yellow green kind of, you know, way of closing and opening things down. But as we see other states kind of implementing, you know, lockdowns. And since we are saying that it is more dire now, is there any kind of re considerations for that? And what are kind of those benchmarks? Maybe where it would reach a point like what would be the benchmark to have to go back to that sort of thing? Is there such that exist? Let me answer that. I’ll turn over to Dr Levine. Uh, What I’ve been saying all along is we are doing everything in our power to avoid going back to where we were in March and April. Uh, I think the red yellow green was a very was a blunt instrument on. It was something we had to do back then because we needed to buy time, uh, to make sure that the health care system is not overwhelmed. There was no vaccine on the horizon at that point. We didn’t know much at all about Cove in 19. We didn’t know what we needed to do. Thio treat it Andi way. Really? We’re not even clear on things as fundamental as masking. At that point, we know a lot more about the disease and the virus or the vaccine is on the horizon. So the time is different right now, and and the blunt instruments that we had to use to buy time back in March and April, we don’t need anymore. We could be much more targeted. So I don’t see the red, yellow green as even being appropriate at this point. What other states are doing are targeted on focused mitigation efforts that there very decisive. We’ve done some of those things on if we have to doom or again, we’ll be considering those those things over the coming days. But right now, I think we have in place the key things we need. Todo uh, we’ll be continuing to look at this and in the next few days, have something Thio to share with you. Doctor Brene. Thank you, Governor. I don’t have that much more to add. Accepted to contrast with the spring, um you know, we at our highest we had approximately 2000 cases of just under 2000 cases a day, and on Saturday we had 12,700 new cases a day. So and this is the fall resurgence and now going into winter that we had discussed in a lot of this is due to the change in the weather. Aziz. We’ve noticed the weather is getting colder and darker and people arm or inside, and that always spreads respiratory viruses more completely.
The coronavirus is running rampant throughout Pennsylvania and could soon force overwhelmed hospitals to begin turning away patients, Gov. Tom Wolf warned Monday, calling it a “dangerous, disturbing scenario” that will become reality if people don’t take steps to slow the spread.Additional pandemic restrictions might be on the way, said Wolf, who did not elaborate on what his administration is considering but acknowledged the ones already in place have not worked.“Over the course of the past two weeks, unfortunately, Pennsylvania’s situation has become even more dire, and I find myself here saying things I really, really wish I didn’t have to say,” Wolf said at a virtual news conference. “If we don’t slow the spread of this dangerous virus now, the reality is that COVID-19 will overwhelm our hospitals, will overwhelm our health care system.”Citing sharp increases in new infections, hospitalizations and deaths, Wolf said the unchecked spread of the virus in all regions of the state means that resource-sharing agreements among hospitals could soon begin to break down and force them to begin rationing care.“If the worst happens, hospitals will not be able to treat all sick Pennsylvanians,” he said. “They’ll be forced to turn away people who need treatment, and that means more Pennsylvanians will die.”Even with that stark warning, Wolf, a Democrat, all but ruled out a return to the kinds of statewide restrictions he imposed last spring, when schools were closed, thousands of businesses deemed non-essential were shut down, and all 12.8 million Pennsylvanians were under a stay-at-home order.“The blunt instruments that we had to use to buy time back in March and April, we don’t need anymore. We can be much more targeted,” he said.The state has already imposed restrictions on bars and restaurants, limited indoor and outdoor gatherings, mandated the wearing of masks, and required out-of-state travelers to test negative for the virus before arrival. Health officials have also begged people to stay at home whenever possible.But those measures and advisories have not prevented Pennsylvania’s numbers from going in the wrong direction amid the national surge.Hospitalizations are up tenfold since Oct. 1, and the supply of beds in intensive-care units is running low. Deaths have risen 85% in two weeks, to an average of 140 per day, according to an AP analysis of data from The COVID Tracking Project. Pennsylvania is averaging 9,000 new confirmed infections per day.Maureen Casey, a nurse at Hershey Medical Center, said her hospital is under severe strain as COVID patients keep coming like “waves on a shore.” Medical staff are worn out, she said.“Nurses go home, cry in the shower, cry in the car alone because of the desperation and exhaustion they feel,” Casey said at Monday’s briefing.The state health secretary, Dr. Rachel Levine, said many hospitals are at or near capacity, and are faced with staffing shortages.COVID-19 is also overloading Pennsylvania’s contact tracing system, which has been unable to keep up with the unrelenting torrent of new cases.Public health experts say it’s important to interview people who have tested positive for the virus as soon as possible so their “close contacts,” or the people they exposed, can be identified and quarantined. But for the week of Nov. 22, only about 13% of the people testing positive were contacted within a day, the state Health Department said Monday.With Pennsylvania reporting nearly 13,000 new cases on Saturday alone – a record – Levine said the state is focusing its tracing efforts on nursing homes, prisons and other vulnerable populations.“It is impossible to do case investigations and contact tracing for that amount of people,” Levine said. “We’re not able to get to much of the general population.”
The coronavirus is running rampant throughout Pennsylvania and could soon force overwhelmed hospitals to begin turning away patients, Gov. Tom Wolf warned Monday, calling it a “dangerous, disturbing scenario” that will become reality if people don’t take steps to slow the spread.
Additional pandemic restrictions might be on the way, said Wolf, who did not elaborate on what his administration is considering but acknowledged the ones already in place have not worked.
“Over the course of the past two weeks, unfortunately, Pennsylvania’s situation has become even more dire, and I find myself here saying things I really, really wish I didn’t have to say,” Wolf said at a virtual news conference. “If we don’t slow the spread of this dangerous virus now, the reality is that COVID-19 will overwhelm our hospitals, will overwhelm our health care system.”
Citing sharp increases in new infections, hospitalizations and deaths, Wolf said the unchecked spread of the virus in all regions of the state means that resource-sharing agreements among hospitals could soon begin to break down and force them to begin rationing care.
“If the worst happens, hospitals will not be able to treat all sick Pennsylvanians,” he said. “They’ll be forced to turn away people who need treatment, and that means more Pennsylvanians will die.”
Even with that stark warning, Wolf, a Democrat, all but ruled out a return to the kinds of statewide restrictions he imposed last spring, when schools were closed, thousands of businesses deemed non-essential were shut down, and all 12.8 million Pennsylvanians were under a stay-at-home order.
“The blunt instruments that we had to use to buy time back in March and April, we don’t need anymore. We can be much more targeted,” he said.
The state has already imposed restrictions on bars and restaurants, limited indoor and outdoor gatherings, mandated the wearing of masks, and required out-of-state travelers to test negative for the virus before arrival. Health officials have also begged people to stay at home whenever possible.
But those measures and advisories have not prevented Pennsylvania’s numbers from going in the wrong direction amid the national surge.
Hospitalizations are up tenfold since Oct. 1, and the supply of beds in intensive-care units is running low. Deaths have risen 85% in two weeks, to an average of 140 per day, according to an AP analysis of data from The COVID Tracking Project. Pennsylvania is averaging 9,000 new confirmed infections per day.
Maureen Casey, a nurse at Hershey Medical Center, said her hospital is under severe strain as COVID patients keep coming like “waves on a shore.” Medical staff are worn out, she said.
“Nurses go home, cry in the shower, cry in the car alone because of the desperation and exhaustion they feel,” Casey said at Monday’s briefing.
The state health secretary, Dr. Rachel Levine, said many hospitals are at or near capacity, and are faced with staffing shortages.
COVID-19 is also overloading Pennsylvania’s contact tracing system, which has been unable to keep up with the unrelenting torrent of new cases.
Public health experts say it’s important to interview people who have tested positive for the virus as soon as possible so their “close contacts,” or the people they exposed, can be identified and quarantined. But for the week of Nov. 22, only about 13% of the people testing positive were contacted within a day, the state Health Department said Monday.
With Pennsylvania reporting nearly 13,000 new cases on Saturday alone – a record – Levine said the state is focusing its tracing efforts on nursing homes, prisons and other vulnerable populations.
“It is impossible to do case investigations and contact tracing for that amount of people,” Levine said. “We’re not able to get to much of the general population.”