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COVID-19 cases up to 185 across PA

The Pennsylvania Department of Health is reporting an additional 52 cases of COVID-19 across the Commonwealth.

Thursday’s daily update included a total number of 185 cases from 22 counties.

Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine noted that all of those patients are in isolation at home or being treated at a hospital.

An additional 1,608 tests have come back negative.

“Daily counts are increasing rapidly,” Levine said, “especially in urban areas, particularly Southeast Pennsylvania.”

“New cases are beginning to appear in other counties suggesting that community spread is happening. (It) is so important that we do what Gov. Wolf has asked us to do and told us to do – stay calm, stay home and stay safe.”

Levine emphasized that “business participation in our mitigation strategies is essential” and acknowledged she is “keenly aware of the economic impact of this pandemic.”

However, she argued the “human toll can be much, much worse” and emphasized that “we have a real chance at slowing the spread of the virus if we all just stay home and limit our exposure to one another. Not is the time for these actions.”

“Business participation in this mitigation strategy will literally save lives.”

While she shot down the rumor that ibuprofen might exacerbate COVID-19 symptoms, Levine did say that “I do believe, and other public health officials do believe, (there are) more cases of COVID-19 in the communities than just numbers we are reporting.”

In a slight twist on their recommendations, Levine said those with “very mild symptoms” could “consider just staying home.” She said it was possible that doctors might advise such a course for those with mild symptoms anyways.

“I think staying home would be really, really prudent,” she said.

She was asked what people should do who may have traveled and be in other locations away from home.

Their response “is that people should stay where they are.”

In addition to mitigation efforts, efforts are underway, Levine has said, to support hospitals and health systems.

She noted that we “do have significant hospitalization rate” that is “varying from day to day.”

“We’re helping work with them to prepare for (an) increase in patients,” she said, noting that the state would recommend canceling elective procedures at this time and to not use personal protection equipment where it might not be necessary.

Levine also addressed mental health concerns and said those in need of help can text “PA” to 741741 for assistance or reach out to a mental health provider.

“I think it’s really important that families support each other during these very difficult times,” she said. “All of us need support during this very challenging time with COVID-19 and we’re all in this together.”

While schools in the Commonwealth are only closed, at this point, through the end of next week, Levine said that discussions are ongoing with the governor’s office about whether that will hold.

Here are county-by-county positive test results for March 19 according to the state Department of Health: Montgomery (47), Philadelphia (33), Allegheny (16), Monroe (15), Delaware (14), Bucks (12), Cumberland (11), Chester (10), Northampton (5) and the county’s lone fatality, Pike and Washington (3) and Beaver, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Westmoreland and York with two cases each. Counties with one case each include Adams, Berks, Lebanon, Lehigh, Luzerne and Wayne.

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