An independent news publication of
United Way of Lancaster County


Daily Policy Update

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:


Dept. of Health:

  • “Wolf Administration Releases Data on COVID-19 Cases by Long-Term Care Facility” :
  • “Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19, 610 Positives Bring Statewide Total to 63,666” :
  • Lancaster Stats: 2,593 cases. 12,256 negative tests. (According to DOH website- updated today at 1:30pm)
    • # of Deaths: 259 deaths. (updated 11:59 pm on May 18, 2020.)
    • County Population: 543,557.
    • Death Rate per 100,000 residents: 47.6%
  • Daily Press Briefings:
    • Dr. Levine summary: “Stay Calm. Stay Home. Stay Safe.”
      • As of 12am this morning, 610 new cases bringing statewide total 63,666 Pennsylvanians who have tested positive in all 67 counties. This includes 4,600 cases in healthcare workers and 13,813 positive cases among residents of 557 long-term care living facilities. Tragically, 4,624 deaths- all have been adults. However, we have had a pediatric death of a child who died in PA but was not a PA resident.
      • To protect the vulnerable residents living in long-term care living facilities, the Wolf administration has had a 3 pillar approach: 1) ensure resident safety through testing, education, and distribution of resources; 2) to prevent and mitigate outbreaks; 3) work in partnership with state agencies, local health depts., and the long-term care facility operators.
      • To help in our response we requested and received additional support from the CDC for the next few weeks. Three teams arrived in PA last Thursday and were briefed and prepared to assist in our COVID response. Two of the teams are assisting in outbreaks in long-term care facilities and one team is assisting with outbreaks in food facilities. The teams are helping the Dept assess the situation in these congregate settings, teach infection control practices, and offer training on PPE. They are also assisting with outbreak response at the facilities that they visit. For nursing homes they are assisting facilities to develop a facility-specific testing strategy and using their expertise to help cohort residents and staff. We are very pleased to have this level of collaboration and assistance from the CDC to help our teams working in the field in PA.
      • As I have said, long-term care facility residents are among the most vulnerable Pennsylvanians with the COVID pandemic and we want their families to have the latest information on what is going on in the facilities where their loved ones reside. It is actually the responsibility of the facility to keep families informed. But today we are also posting on our website, data on the number of resident cases, number of staff cases, and number of deaths by facilities regulated by both the Dept of Health and the Dept. of Human Services. For facilities with less than five of any of these data points, the info will be redacted to protect patient privacy.
      • 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
      • If you, or someone you know, is suffering from an addiction you can call the Dept of Drug and Alcohol Programs helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
      • Please remember to wear a mask if you are going somewhere in public and will be around other people.
    • Reporters’ Questions:
      • PA has the ninth-highest COVID death rate of any state but the 14th lowest testing rate. Why is the testing so low?
        • We are working right now to ramp up and increase our testing. In fact, today we are reporting that we have done more than 11,000 tests that were reported yesterday and that’s the highest that we have had. We have had significant increases in the amount of testing that we have been doing in the last week/week and a half and will continue to expand testing throughout PA.
      • Is there any update on the timetable for moving any of these Yellow regions to Green, and if so what is the timetable?
        • We are working on that as we speak and as soon as we have metrics on that we will release them.
      • Do you have any message for people who are hoping to have a little sense of normalcy this Memorial Day weekend, especially for people in counties who will still be in the Red phase?
        • We know that on Friday, I believe 12 more counties will be going from Red to Yellow and I know it is really difficult for people who live in the counties who are still in the Red zone. Hopefully the weather will be warmer and sunny and people can be outside, of course if you are going to be outside and come into contact with people we ask that you wear a mask and practice social distancing. But hopefully we will all have as enjoyable a Memorial Day weekend as we can.
      • The number of tests, both positive and negative, reported today appears to be in excess of 9,100 results. Is that the largest or at least one of the largest totals reported for any one day? And how close is today’s total to the level that the state hopes to reach?
        • We were actually shooting for 8,000 or more and we are exceeding that. So we are very pleased in terms of the among of testing going on and we are expanding testing through our state lab, the commercial labs, in addition we have a number of different pharmacies that are going to be doing testing including Rite Aid, CVS, and Walmart, and then there is more and more testing through hospitals and health systems. Through all of those different mechanisms we hope to continue to expand the number of tests and we are actually ahead of schedule.
      • The death’s histogram shows the daily number of deaths has fallen precipitously to what looks like a handful over the past number of days, compared to a high of about 175 on April 25th. A fall-off that seems to be camouflaged by the database reconciliation. How do you account for the big death drop-off even as positive case numbers have declined more gradually?
        • It is always later that you are going to see the death drop-off. We are watching that histogram both in terms of cases and deaths, but we have had a decline in the number of new cases and we hope for a continued similar decline in the number of deaths.
      • 24 Yellow phase counties will reach the 2-week mark on Friday. What have you seen there in terms of outbreaks and when do you foresee them being able to move to Green?
        • We don’t know exactly what the metrics are yet for Green so it is hard for me to tell you when they will, but we have not seen any large outbreaks. There have been some congregate facilities that have had increased number of cases and we are intervening in those cases and helping them. But so far the Yellow counties are doing well and as we work on those metrics we will work on a plan for when those counties can move from Yellow to Green.
      • Do you have Dept. of Health nurses in each Yellow county with sufficient staff to do contact-tracing? Is contact-tracing underway in all Yellow counties with sufficient staff to succeed?
        • We have our nurses but then also other staff in all of the Yellow counties, but we do have adequate staffing but we are looking to increase our staffing every day and we are making significant progress.
      • Why has the department not been in touch with county emergency management officials or other county officials to help with contact-tracing?
        • We are working through our contact-tracing plans, in counties that don’t have their own county health department then our Bureau of Community Health nurses are lead, but we are pleased to collaborate with everybody. So we will discuss that Director Padfield as PEMA has the most contact with those individuals.
      • Today you are releasing nursing home data, did anything surprise you in the numbers? What do you say to critics who say the state was way too slow to react to what they should have known was going on to be a problem in nursing homes?
        • We have been reacting from the very beginning to the challenges in long-term care living facilities. Other states have clearly faced the same challenges, you have seniors who are more prone to serious side effects of COVID, seniors with chronic conditions who are even more susceptible in a congregate living facility, that is always going to be a challenge. We have continued to do everything we can to help those facilities and now that the testing capacity is there we are working out a way to test everyone in every facility and we are continuing to evolve our strategy.
      • What type of antibody testing studies would you like to see and what will it take for those tests to become useful in tracking and controlling future outbreaks?
        • We would like to see a number of different antibody studies, we know that they are happening at some of the commercial labs and through the hospitals. What we don’t know is how protective those antibodies are from getting COVID, the suggestion is that they are at least somewhat protective but may not be totally protective so we need more info about that. And we need more info over time about how long those antibodies last, if it does turn out that they are protective against COVID than they will be very useful as the pandemic continues to know who might be at least partially immune from the virus.
      • The number of new cases of COVID each day, for more than a week, has been less than 1,000- what do you make of this? Do you consider this a positive trend and do you expect it to continue?
        • We do consider this a very positive trend and I think that we have been successful in terms of continuing to bend and straighten the curve in terms of the number of new cases of COVID. We have been able to buttress the healthcare systems so they were not overwhelmed and now after those mitigation efforts have been successful, we are working under the Gov’s leadership in a progressive, iterative, phased fashion to reopen PA and protect those businesses and the economy, as well as protecting the public health of everyone in PA.
      • How current are infection and death rates for nursing homes? And how often will this info be updated?
        • The info is current today and will be updated daily.


National News:

Washington Post:

The latest

Other important news


Recurring Resources:

    • United Way of Lancaster County has launched a new website, This digital source of information for our community works in tandem with United Way's 2-1-1 resources to connect people and resources during this time of upheaval.
    • The Asset Map is a county-wide resource for all to utilize. If you need to add/update/delete information please follow the link here:


  • Lancaster Chamber:
    • Website updated daily:
    • Past webinars are listed on the Chamber’s site listed above!
    • Webinars:
      • THIS WEEK Starts May 21 - Work Wisdom Series: Communication, Collaboration, Work-Life Integration
        Running for a three series program, invest in your employees and yourself by learning how to authentically community, collaborate and work on the work-life integration. Click the links to learn more about each session. Choose all three, or just one!
      • Wednesday, May 27 - PPP Loans: Review Loan Forgiveness Application and Process
        Walz Group CPA Principal Daniel T. Massey, CPA and Manager Benjamin J. Ritenour, CPA will be leading a discussion on the loan forgiveness application and related instructions that were released on Friday, May 15 by the US Treasury and SBA. This webinar will provide you with their take on the information provided including what questions have been answered and what issues remain unresolved. Please join us for this important PPP loan program update.



  • Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health: