Each day a summary of news and information that has been gathered from community partners and credible news sites will be posted.

State Government:

General CoVid resources: https://www.pa.gov/guides/responding-to-covid-19/

Dept. of Education:

Dept. of Human Services:

Dept. of Labor & Industry:

Dept. of Health:

  • “Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19, 825 Positives Bring Statewide Total to 50,092” : https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/Health-Details.aspx?newsid=794
  • Lancaster Stats: 1,991 cases. 8,579 negative tests. 113 deaths. (According to DOH website- updated today at 12:00pm)
  • Daily Press Briefings:
    • Dr. Levine summary: “Stay Calm. Stay Home. Stay Safe.”
      • As of 12am this morning, we have 825 new cases bringing statewide total to 50,092 in all 67 counties. This number include 3,084 positive cases in healthcare workers. It also includes 9,345 positive cases among residents of 494 long-term care living facilities. 2,458 deaths- all have been adults.
      • As of 10am today, hospitals are reporting that approx. 2,689 patients are currently hospitalized. 553 of those have required the use of a ventilator. Across our health care system, approx. 46% of hospital beds, 40% of ICU beds, and nearly 75% of our ventilators are still available.
      • While our current efforts have been focused on COVID, PA’s largest public health epidemic in almost a generation has not stopped- and that is the opioid and substance abuse crisis. There are Pennsylvanians in need of drug and alcohol treatment even without the added stressors caused by COVID. The Dept of Drug and Alcohol Programs’ ‘Get Help Now’ hotline is still connecting Pennsylvanians in need of treatment: 1-800-662-HELP (4357) directly to treatment and resources.
      • If you, or someone you know, needs mental health resources please contact the mental health crisis line by texting “PA” to 741741 or call the statewide support and referral helpline at 1-855-284-2494
    • Reporters’ Questions:
      • Now that you have the date determined for the Northwest and Northcentral counties to head into Yellow, when do you expect to make a decision for the next round of counties and regions?
        • We will be getting data starting on Tuesdays and then Thursdays about some of our metrics, we will be looking at new data from the Carnegie Mellon modeling, and we will be discussing the contact-tracing and lab testing in those areas, so we will be putting all of that together, discussing that with the Governor and then the Governor will make his decision.
      • Even if you okay the region to head into the Yellow or Green, ultimately could it be up to the township or municipality to decide?
        • Of course it is done with the counties and local authorities, so I guess if there was a county that didn’t want to go into Yellow we would have to certainly discuss that, but everything we try to do is a collaboration.
      • Do you anticipate that the restrictions in the Yellow category could change? Meaning do you see the first round of counties head into Yellow, use them as a test run to see if more businesses could be opened?
        • It is possible. We will be looking at all of these issues and be making all of these decisions in real time.
      • The stated goal at the beginning of the shutdown orders was to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed- in large parts of the state, the hospitals have not been overwhelmed. So why not ease mitigation efforts in those areas?
        • We would not want to ease mitigation in the Red zones. Our goal was to prevent the rise of new cases, that exponential increase, and then those new cases overwhelming the healthcare system. We were successful and the mitigation efforts flattened that curve and we did not see that continued exponential rise in cases and deaths and the healthcare system, although challenged in Philadelphia, has stood up very well. However, all of our modeling suggests that if we release mitigation efforts too soon then we will just go right back into that exponential rise and it could go higher than the rise that we saw before.
      • Since 2/3 of the deaths have been in nursing homes/long-term care facilities and nearly all of the deaths have been in people aged 65 or older, was our initial strategy a bit misguided? Should we have been more aggressive in closing down those facilities but less restrictive in other areas?
        • No, I don’t think our initial, and our continuing plans, have been misguided at all. We want to protect the entire population, but you are correct that the majority of deaths have been in seniors. Of course, that is a great example of the population in most nursing homes, seniors, most with comorbid conditions, and it would not be possible to close all of those facilities. There are 695 nursing homes and several thousand personal care homes all taking care of predominantly seniors. We have been working incredibly hard through this entire process to protect those homes as much as possible. It is a significant challenge and we are doing as much as we can to protect the residents and the staff in those facilities.
      • Gov. Cuomo announced NY and PA would be jointly purchasing PPE- can you explain what PPE PA stands to get out of this and when the partnership will begin?
        • That will be organized by the Gov.’s office and DCED but they will be working on that program with a regional approach in the future.
      • When counties move to the Yellow Phase, will workers need to wear masks in the workplace and will shoppers need to wear masks- will that be a recommendation or a requirement?
        • It is a strong recommendation. In the Yellow phases it is the right thing to do to continue to practice social distancing and continue to wear a mask while in public.
      • A few weeks ago, there wasn’t much race data then the Governor and Lt. Governor started a task force- where are we in terms of race data and what those numbers are showing?
        • You are correct, it is very important to get data on race and ethnicity. We are making progress, previously only about 10-15% of the data was coming through with race and ethnicity, now it’s a third. Its better but its still not good enough and we are going to be continuing our efforts to ensure that all those filling out those forms get us that very important data.
      • What are the key factors for counties in the Yellow to ensure they can move forward to the Green phase?
        • The real important thing is to prevent the community spread and transmission, the way to do that is to stay at home as much as possible. In the Yellow there is more liberal interpretation of that so people can go to stores and go to work, but we are still asking that people telecommute as much as possible and that people order online and do curbside pick-up at stores. If that is not possible, we are still asking both the staff and the customers to wear masks at the store. We certainly want people to continue all of the efforts  that I discuss everyday in terms of hand washing, not touching surfaces, etc. in my daily reminders. So if we all do all of that, then areas and counties will be able to go from Yellow to Green.
      • For counties below the threshold, what do they need to do to go from Red to Yellow?
        • We are going to be looking at that- so we need to continue all of those different measures that we just talked about, then we are going to be looking at the data this week, the metric we discussed, the Carnegie Mellon modeling, the contract tracing and testing capabilities, so we are going to put all of that together and discuss that with the Governor and then he will make his decision about which other counties can go from Red to Yellow.
      • How often will new counties be moved into the next phase?
        • There is not a specific timeline, so we will do it whenever the data and all the other measures I just discussed suggest that those counties should.
      • Is there a scenario that could see pools reopening this summer? If so, what would be the criteria for reopening and is there a timeline for this?
        • There is no timeline, although we will discuss it, we just started in May and although the weekend was very nice, so we haven’t made firm decisions about pools yet. As the time gets right, in terms of going into summer, and depending on whether counties are yellow or green we will make those decisions.
      • UPMC doctors say the virus never turned out as widespread or deadly as predicted- what is your view on that remark?
        • I am very pleased that with all of the mitigation efforts we were able to bend the curve and we did not have the size of the peak or surge that we were talking about and it didn’t overwhelm healthcare systems. I think that is a success. But we need to continue those efforts moving forward to continue that success.
      • Transphobic people have been making comments about your appearance throughout the pandemic, do you have a message to those people?
        • My message is that as the Secretary of Health I am working with the Governor’s Office advising the Governor as well as working with other agencies to the best I can in terms of helping PA through this unprecedented global pandemic. I realize that times like these can be very stressful, people sometimes say things they wouldn’t otherwise say or mean, but really what I am going to do is stay laser-focused on helping PA through this global pandemic and assisting the Governor and the Governor’s office.
      • Recently you announced that non-emergency medical procedures can resume- what is the status of dental procedures including cleanings, are they allowed to resume as well?
        • We are working on dental guidance as we speak and we hope to have it released by the end of the week in terms of guidance throughout the state.
      • Daycares in counties that move into the Yellow phase will be allowed to reopen, what kind of guidance will be in place to ensure that children in those facilities stay safe?
        • That is really important as counties move from Red to Yellow, so we are going to be working with the Dept. of Human Services, which regulates those childcare centers, on guidance.
      • Some listeners have expressed concerns about COVID symptoms overlapping with allergies or the flu- is it better to be safe than sorry and get tested?
        • We want any symptomatic individual to get a COVID test, we have liberalized our criteria significantly since the resources that we need have become much better, the pipeline has become much better from the federal govt and companies that produce the reagents so we have more tests available so we want to test anyone with symptoms.

So allergy symptoms are not similar to COVID symptoms, allergy symptoms are more along the lines of itchy watery eyes, scratchy throat, stuffed or runny nose, nasal congestion, etc. But we are not seeing many cases of influenza at all so if you are experiencing a fever and a severe cough then we would want you to get tested.

      • Many experts seems to agree that states should brace for a second intense wave of COVID cases in the fall- what has PA learned from the first outbreak?
        • We have certainly heard that, Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx have discussed that federally, we have also heard that through other public health officials throughout the country. We are going to take the lessons learned this spring and apply them in the fall, as the question stated, what we want available is very very widespread testing. We would like to have as much as possible, point of care testing, meaning testing right at the doctors office or in the emergency dept that can take maybe 15 or 20 mins. and not take days or even 24 hrs. to get back. We want to be able to have much more expanded testing throughout the state. I think that the antibody testing will also be useful, hopefully by that time, in the beginning of the fall, we will know more about those antibodies and how long lived and protective they are. Then we will be working with the systems that we will be putting in place right now, the testing system and the contact-tracing system, to make sure that anyone who tests positive is immediately isolated, that there is case investigation, and then contacts are quarantined and we are able to stay very much ahead of that. When this started a few months ago, all the testing was being done by the CDC in Atlanta, so I think we will be in a much better position in the fall to be able to try to prevent any significant outbreaks and community spread of COVID. So we will be working on that everyday to prepare for the fall.
      • Case counts and deaths appear to be decreasing since the weekend, do you find this to be a promising sign with the reopening efforts right around the corner?
        • Yes, but one of the things that we have noted, on Sunday and Monday we tend to have lower counts because of decreased reporting on the weekend and then Tuesday is a higher number so we will see tomorrow if the trend of decreasing continues or if it rises. Again changes over time are the most important thing to watch for.

 

National News:

Washington Post:

 

Recurring Resources:

  • Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health:

I’m In Campaign

  • The “I’m in!” campaign: Lancaster County’s health systems and community organizations are teaming up on a public service message to encourage everyone to continue taking steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the coming weeks.  We are making progress to slow the spread, but we need everyone in the community to join in to protect themselves, their families, and their communities.  The I’m In campaign will include TV ads, social media engagement, and will encourage everyone to show that they are IN to help slow the spread and save lives.
  • How your organization can help: Create your own “I’m in” messages on social media and encourage your community to do the same.  Attached are the simple instructions to create and share your message.  We will share additional resources and tips for joining the campaign over the coming weeks.
  • If you would like to share the PSA video, please do!  Here are the links to the 30-second and 60-second clips on YouTube:
  • With questions about the “I’m in” campaign, please contact Brenda Buescher.

Shelter/Homelessness:

  • “Wolf Administration Releases Guidance on Emergency Housing, Quarantine Sheltering, Resources for People Experiencing Homelessness” : https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/DHS_details.aspx?newsid=524 (Sharing this again, in a different spot in the email to make sure everyone sees it who needs to! This was also in Friday’s edition, under the State Govt. section.)

Workforce Development Board:

  • Youth between the ages of 16-24 are offered 6-10 week paid internships at local companies…and the best part is, the wages and liability are covered by PA CareerLink® Lancaster County! Youth earn a minimum of $10.35 an hour, are mentored by their worksite supervisor, and learn life-long skills that will help them gain the confidence and employability skills that will serve them well in their future.
  • COVID-19 has made this normally bustling time a challenge, as some businesses remain closed. But, we are still dedicated to making these connections for both businesses and youth in Lancaster. Attached is a flyer with contact information.
Melina Godshall
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