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COVID-19 claims second life in Pa. as number of cases climbs

103 new cases reported on Saturday, none in Warren County

A second Pennsylvanian has died as a result of COVID-19.

The total number of cases also rose by 103 to a total of 371 state-wide in 28 counties.

An additional 3,766 Pennsylvanians have tested negative for the virus, according to Department of Health data.

The message from the state over the last couple weeks has been consistent – stay calm, stay home and stay safe.

In Saturday’s press briefing, Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine argued that the line is “more than just a catchy phrase.

“The virus is deadly,” she said. “I know that this is a stressful time for everyone. I know that Pennsylvanians are strong and resilient and that our community will get through this if we pull together.”

While other states have implemented shelter in place orders, Pennsylvania has not taken that step.

“We are in those discussions with the administration and the governor,” Levine said. “(We) will make determinations over the next number of days as the situation requires. Those decisions have not been made of yet.”

Another catchphrase has been to “flatten the curve” through social distance and other mitigation efforts and it remains unclear how long it’ll take before we know that the efforts have worked?

“We’re in new ground here,” Levine said. “We are still seeing an exponential rise in new cases in Pennsylvania and in the United States. (We) don’t have that specific information.”

One of the new positive test cases is that of a food service worker at a nursing home, a high concentration of the virus’ most at-risk individuals.

“(We are in) constant contact with all nursing homes,” Levine said. “We have put out nursing home guidance in the last number of days to prevent cases. We are investigating this case.”

Levine also addresses several testing-related issues.

She said that the state’ laboratory is prioritizing cases, for example, from nursing homes or of healthcare workers and can complete those tests in less than a day. She also explained that hospitals and health systems – UPMC and Allegheny among them – are testing on their own in addition to commercial labs. Those commercial labs can take “a number of days” to return a test.

And the numbers reported each day, she acknowledged, will be an “underestimate.”

“It is not necessary to test someone with very, very mild symptoms” who have no underlying medical issues and are comfortable at home.

Still, she insisted that the increase in cases each day is “not just increased testing” as the department is “seeking a spike in cases because more people are being infected.”

Additionally, the order closing non-life sustaining businesses was pushed back due to demand for the waiver process.

Here is a county-by-county breakdown of cases as of Saturday: Montgomery (71), Philadelphia (69), Delaware (33), Allegheny (31) and one death, Monroe (25), Bucks (24), Chester (19), Northampton (17) and one death, Lehigh (13), Cumberland (11), York (9), Berks (7), Luzerne (6), Washington and Lackawanna (5), Adams, Lancaster and Westmoreland (4), Beaver (3), Lebanon and Pike (2) and one each in Butler, Centre, Erie, Franklin, Montour, Potter and Wayne counties.

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