Dr. Michael Ripchinski, chief clinical officer for Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health, speaks at a news conference at the Lancaster County Public Safety Training Center on Tuesday, April 28, 2020.  (Photo: Tim Stuhldreher)
Dr. Michael Ripchinski, chief clinical officer for Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health, speaks at a news conference at the Lancaster County Public Safety Training Center on Tuesday, April 28, 2020. (Photo: Tim Stuhldreher)

At Tuesday's news conference at the Lancaster County Public Safety Training Center, Dr. Michael Ripchinski gave the fullest picture to date of the Covid-19 pandemic here.

"Coronavirus is much more contagious than the flu," said Ripchinksi, who is chief clinical officer for Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health. The average Covid-19 carrier infects about 2 to 2.5 other people, versus about 1 for flu.

So far, LGH has tested 1,279 individuals positive for Covid-19, he said. (That's about 78% of the county total.) Currently, LGH has 56 Covid-19 inpatients, of whom 18 are in critical care and six are on ventilators.

This is the first time the hospital has had more than 50 coronavirus inpatients, he said. He noted that LGH recorded more than 90 new positive cases Friday, April 24, an all-time high.

Why the spike? "One possible explanation," he said, could be that people had relaxed their social distancing over the Easter weekend two weeks earlier. He cautioned county residents not to let up on social distancing, hand washing and other measures to limit coronavirus' spread.

Here are other takeaways from Ripchinski's summary of LGH data:

  • Among LGH's 1,279 Covid-19 cases, 75% are ages 20 to 65, while 22% are over age 65. The average age is 52.
  • Roughly 1 case in 7 requires hospitalization.
  • About 80% of fatalities are residents of long term care communities. Of the county's 155 fatalities reported as of Tuesday morning, 38 died at LGH. The average age is 77.
  • LGH has discharged 91 recovered patients. They range from age 19 to 89, and average 61. Nearly half are over age 65, and 61% are women.
  • Their average hospital stay was 6 days.
  • Of the recovered patients, 24 had required admittance to the ICU, including 7 who had been on ventilation.
  • Younger patients typically recover fully in 2 to 4 weeks. Older patients and those with chronic health problems often require oxygen for 4 to 6 weeks after discharge, and about half need physical therapy or occupational therapy.
  • LGH nurses have tracked nearly 1,000 patients who have recovered in the community. About 300 more are currently being tracked.
WATCH: Lancaster County Covid-19 press conference
Tuesday, April 14, 2020 (Source: LNP | LancasterOnline)
Tim Stuhldreher