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

 

Governor Wolf:

4/18

4/20

State Government:

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

Dept. of Labor & Industry:

Dept of Revenue:

Dept of Health:

4/18

4/20

  • “Department of Health Provides Update on COVID-19, 948 Positives Bring Statewide Total to 33,232” : https://www.media.pa.gov/Pages/Health-Details.aspx?newsid=779
  • Link to Statewide map of testing sites: https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/disease/coronavirus/Pages/Symptoms-Testing.aspx?fbclid=IwAR0q72qATsxBX9zL0KMErYO_OQZutSgVMY1I4fEEa8-3zcHN_7WixZ-VFAY
  • COVID-19 Data: https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/disease/coronavirus/Pages/Cases.aspx (now available at zip code-level data)
  • Lancaster Stats: 1,236 cases. 5,808 negative tests. 66 deaths. (According to DOH website- updated today at 12:00pm)
  • Daily Press Briefing:
    • Gov Wolf summary:
      • Our new cases numbers have stabilized and we have prevented the patient surges that we were so concerned about and that we have seen in other places.
      • Today, we are taking small steps to regain some normalcy in PA: allowing for curbside pick-up at the state wine and spirit stores, auto sales will now be allowed to take place online, beginning May 8th limited construction is allowed.
      • I want to caution, this is not going to be resuming operations as they were in Feb. We still do not have a vaccine. We still don’t have an antibody test. Without continuing to take precautions we are all going to see a resurgence of this virus, so we cannot relax. We are going to continue to take precautions that limit our contact with others, cutting down on the number of transmission links, while we move towards an opening on May 8th.
      • Many stores have already moved to pick-up, and with the addition of the state stores, we will be monitoring that closely not only at the stores but all along the supply chain. This will help us determine if curbside pick-up can be more broadly applied to a much more diverse retail landscape as well as to other industries. We have also seen many businesses take advantage of online capabilities to cut back on the contact with clients. Beginning on May 8th, we are allowing for limited construction operations with strict guidelines statewide.
      • In the coming days we will build on the standards I outlined last Friday and discuss how PA plans to move forward with a measured, region by region and sectoral approach all starting on May 8. This will all be data-driven reliant on quantifiable criteria to drive a targeted, evidence-based regional approach to reopenings in PA. We will put forth guidance and recommendations for employers, individuals, healthcare facilities, and providers for assured accountability when we reopen. Reopening will require that adequate PPE and diagnostic testing are available. Reopening will require a monitoring and surveillance program that allows the Commonwealth to deploy swift actions for containment or mitigation if that becomes necessary. Protections for vulnerable populations will remain in place throughout the reopening process and limitations on large gatherings, unrelated to occupations, must remain in place for the duration of the reopening process. The steps we are taking today are not a sign that we should stop social distancing.
      • There is still a statewide Stay at Home order that will last through May 8th. All of the safety guidance we implemented for employees and individuals stays in place.
    • Secretary Levine summary: “Stay Calm. Stay Home. Stay Safe.”
      • As of 12am this morning, we have 948 new cases, brings statewide total to 33,232 cases in all 67 counties. We are looking for trends in our data to determine more definitively if our positivity rates are declining. Approx 1,562 cases of the total are in healthcare workers.
      • As of noon today, hospitals are reporting that approx. 3,057 are currently hospitalized due to COVID which is slightly less than 10% of total case count. 645 of those hospitalized are currently using a ventilator. Across our healthcare system, approx. 42% of hospital beds, 36% of ICU beds, and nearly 70% of vents are still available. 1,204 deaths- all have been adults.
      • Have been working with PEMA to develop a map that shows not only county positive and negative case counts but actually zip code level counts as well, that map is now available on our website. What’s important to remember about this information is that if there are a lower number of confirmed cases in your zip code, it doesn’t mean it is safe to resume your normal activities, discontinue social distancing, or go out without a mask. If you are buying masks, buy from a small business and please leave medical masks for our healthcare professionals.
      • If you need 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
      • President Trump said he was going to have a call with Governor’s regarding testing today- did that call occur yet, and if so, any updates on the commonwealth’s testing abilities or more resources that might be coming from the federal govt?
        • Gov: Yes, that call took place at 11am today and, it was actually with the Vice President, it was all about testing and both Secretary Levine and I were on that call. Again, the challenge we all have is to get that increased testing capacity, PA is in pretty good shape when it comes to platforms, we need the reagents and the test kits and that is sort of the general cry from other states. We all expressed that hope today and the Vice President assured us that the federal govt was moving as quickly as possible towards that end.
      • If we have employees that are currently laid off and we call them back to work and they tell us that they don’t or won’t come back to work because they are getting paid more with unemployment and the $600 bonus, what can we do? Can their unemployment be revoked?
        • Gov: No, and as a former business owner, if you ever face that kind of situation there is one really simple thing you can do as a business owner and that is raise the compensation of your employees.
      • I understand protestors began arriving at the capitol this morning, what have you seen in terms of social distancing?
        • Gov: I actually have not seen protestors at the Capitol this morning so I am just hoping, obviously this is a democracy and everyone has a right to express their opinions, I am just hoping that they, like every other Pennsylvanian, recognizes that we want to keep each other safe. Social distancing is part of that proposition.
      • Do you have any updated message for those that are gathered?
        • Gov: Please stay safe. We want you to be safe- we are doing everything we can to keep Pennsylvanians safe and that includes you.
      • Why are riders on public transit not required to wear masks?
        • Sec Levine: The requirement was to protect workers in stores, particularly in food-related stores, to protect the staff and employees in life-sustaining businesses so we have not extended it at this time to public transit.
      • Emergency officials are saying that the emergencies are no longer in hospitals but in nursing homes- how is the Dept responding to that?
        • Sec Levine: We have been talking about the vulnerable populations of those in long-term living facilities for several weeks now. As the Gov, said the hospitals are doing well. We know that the hospitals, particularly in the southeast, have higher census rates and higher ICU rates but so far they are doing well. We are making sure that they have enough beds, staffing, PPE, and everything they need to take care of the number of COVID patients we are saying.

But the long-term care facilities are very challenged. This has been true throughout the US and in other areas of the world. Our Dept, working with PEMA, DHS, and Military and Veteran’s Affairs, we are doing everything we possibly can to help these facilities. We have issued guidance, we issued CMS’ guidance, working to make sure they have PPE, making very frequent phone calls with many facilities, and doing infectious disease consults, and we have a firm ECRI, also doing infectious disease consults. In addition, the National Guard has sent a number of medical personnel to some of the most challenged facilities. It is our most vulnerable population and we are doing everything we can to protect the patients living there and the staff who work there.

      • The White House issued guidelines last week for reopening states, recommending that before beginning a phased reopening there should be a downward trajectory of documented cases within a 14-day period and a robust testing system in place. Are you setting similar benchmarks for PA and if yes, what are they?
        • Gov: Yes, we haven’t set the specific guidelines yet but those are the kinds of things that are absolutely important. That is why the conference call today with the Vice Pres was so important, we need to build our testing capacity and we have seen a flattening of the rate of increase, it is too early to declare victory, but we are making progress. My hope is that by saying by a certain date, we are disciplining ourselves to say, by May 8th we will have in place the ability to do the testing we need in the areas that we open, that we will have the capacity we need in our healthcare system, that we will have those things. So the goal is to say ‘Okay we are going to do this right’, if we are making this decision based on this evidence and then we get evidence back that is saying we are moving too fast in this area or in this business sector then we can retreat. The goal is to keep Pennsylvanians safe, but we also want to give ourselves hope and we want to start this process as quickly as we can.
      • Retailers are asking if they will be able to offer curbside pick-up now that the liquor stores are able to do so- do you plan to consider that request?
        • Gov: We are going to consider a whole lot of things as we move towards that May 8th gradual opening. Again, I think from a commonsense point of view that is going to be harder in the more densely-populated areas than it will be in the more sparsely-populated areas, so we don’t want to do curbside pick-up in urban areas if that is going to lead to more traffic congestion. We have to do this in a reasoned, commonsense way the way we moved into the mitigation phase and that’s the same way we will move out of it.
      • Phase 3 of your plan for reopening PA reads like a progressive campaign platform, particularly in the recovery for Pennsylvanians section. What is your response to critics who say you are capitalizing on this pandemic in order to push a liberal agenda?
        • Gov: (chuckles) No, I am actually trying to get Pennsylvania back to the place it needs to be. What I was talking about, like one of the questions that came up earlier, if you are concerned about losing employees because they could make more in unemployment then you need to pay them more. If we had employees, when we start opening businesses back up, who are reluctant to come back to work or customers who are reluctant to buy stuff, it means that we have to do things to think maybe more of other people. That is the way the market will work. That will inevitably lead us to have a greater concern of our fellow citizens of PA.
      • We are hearing from Legislators during the protest today, asking you to rescind your orders, what is your response to them?
        • Gov: Again, I think everyone wants to get through this phase as quickly as possible and like anybody else, if I could snap my fingers or wave a magic wand to get us back to where we were in January, I would do it in a heartbeat. The question that we all have to face is ‘What’s the reality?’ If we go too quickly, this could be unsafe for people or they might be very many people who don’t want to go back to work, or go out to buy things at a store or go out to a restaurant because they are afraid for their life- these are the realities. So as much as we might dream of a magic wand, it doesn’t exist so what we have to do is figure out how to make choices among competing, really unappetizing choices.
      • Self-employed individuals are reporting issues with the online system. After the application is filed, they cannot make a weekly claim- when will this be fixed?
        • Gov: The new system for self-employed and gig workers just went up on Friday night at 10pm, I think instead of going through trials, the Dept of L&I wanted to get it out as quickly as possible so it went out. There are inevitable challenges and problems getting through and L&I is working through that. There is a crush of people applying for the very first time, the old system did not allow for self-employed and gig workers to get unemployment, now they can and a lot of people are signing up. We have the new technology and are trying to make it work the best we can. But there is a real crush of demand and we are doing everything we can to try to meet that and turn things around as quickly and as conveniently as possible.
      • Do we plan to end the Stay at Home order on May 8th, and is it a tentative date assuming there are no virus flare-ups before the 8th?
        • Gov: No, May 8th is a target date now, the question is how we do it. We will do it by region, and that means that just because one county opens it does not mean it is going to look the same in another county. And by the way, when we reopen on May 8th, people are still going to have to exercise caution. Staying home is still the best way to stay safe. Absent a vaccine, which we don’t have now, absent a cure, which we don’t have now, those are the kinds of things we need to do. Social distancing will remain important- life is going to be different on the other side of this. We are going to go as fast as we reasonably can, we are going to take the same measured approach to reopening as we did to closing, it will still rely on individual Pennsylvanians making reasoned, intelligent choices.
      • Coroners seem to think there are victims of COVID who died and have not been tested, meaning that the true death toll isn’t known- would you agree with that?
        • Sec Levine: This weekend, we did a look at merging different data systems. We are going to be working on merging and updating our data systems to make sure, as much as possible, that we count every patient that died of COVID and we look forward to working with the coroners on that to make sure our counts are as accurate as possible.

National News:

Washington Post:

Cautiously Optimistic News!

Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health:

Lancaster Chamber:

Local Govt:

Food/Meals:

Childcare:

NVOAD:

COVID resources from the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster: https://t.e2ma.net/message/67hg1c/209he7

Melina Godshall
Latest posts by Melina Godshall (see all)