Dr. Michael Ripchinski | chief clinical officer LGH
Dr. Michael Ripchinski, chief clinical officer at Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health, speaks at a press conference on Tuesday, April 14, 2020. (Source: WGAL)

Local government and medical officials urged Lancaster County residents on Tuesday to stay the course and continue their social distancing in order to limit the spread of coronavirus.

"Your efforts are beginning to make a difference," Dr. Michael Ripchinski, chief clinical officer for Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health, said at a press conference hosted by the Lancaster County commissioners.

"This is not a time to let our guard down," he added.

While recent numbers are encouraging, there's not enough data to say the curve of new infections is flattening, he said. He likened forecasting the epidemic to predicting the path of a hurricane: There is always uncertainty, and it increases the farther one extrapolates.

Ripchinski said LGH has tested in the neighborhood of 4,500 individuals for Covid-19, of whom about 16% tested positive. The health system is treating 39 Covid-19 inpatients, of whom 13 are in intensive care and eight are being ventilated, he said.

Lancaster County has seen more coronavirus cases and fatalities than its neighbors. In part, that's a straightforward consequence of its larger population; Ripchinski and Commissioner Josh Parsons said other factors could be playing a role, too, such as more thorough testing or a higher volume of travel to and from affected areas in the pandemic's early stages.

The three county commissioners, Lancaster Mayor Danene Sorace and U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker all said they are working together to secure resources, share information with the public and get help to those affected by the pandemic.

They asked residents to do their part by taking the virus seriously, heeding public-health experts and respecting the lockdown.

That will ensure hospital beds remain open for those who need them and will hasten the day normal life can resume, they said.

"We can get through this together," Commissioner Josh Parsons said. "We can come out on the other side stronger."

WATCH: Lancaster County Covid-19 press conference
Tuesday, April 14, 2020 (Source: LNP | LancasterOnline)
Tim Stuhldreher