Pennsylvania confirms new COVID-19 cases and deaths, warns of surge

KYW Staff
April 04, 2020 - 12:57 pm

UPDATED 2:04 p.m.

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Pennsylvania health officials reported 1,597 new positive cases of COVID-19 Saturday, brining the state's total to 10,017 cases across 64 counties.

Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine also confirmed 34 new deaths. 136 Pennsylvanians have died from the coronavirus since the first case was announced on March 6. Most of the deaths have been among patients over the age of 65. 14% of nursing homes in the state have at least one positive case.

Of the total, 276 cases require intensive care, but Levine pointed out the numbers are increasing.

"I want to emphasize that right now we have adequate capacity in our system. We have enough ICU beds. We have enough ventilators, but what we want to anticipate and prepare for is the surge," she warned. "That rise of new cases that could occur over the next weeks or a month and to make sure that we have adequate resources for that time and so that's what we are preparing for."

Levine added the state has received resources from the federal government and the national stockpile, and has also purchased ventilators that are expected to arrive later this month. So when is Pennsylvania expected to hit peak need?

"We've been looking at various models," she answered. "I'll be looking forward to the new University of Pittsburgh public health model next week. There's a University of Washington model that indicates it's in the middle of April but we will see."

Levine said that there is no evidence of the virus slowing down, and that all models have shown continued growth.

The secretary reiterated the state is counting on its citizens to flatten the curve by staying indoors, and has now added a new recommendation which is to also wear a mask while social distancing if you must go outside for essential activities.

During Saturday's briefing, Levine also pointed out that while the focus right now is on the coronavirus, prior to this pandemic, opioids and substance abuse were the biggest public health crisis across the nation and she reminds people that those services are still available.

"Treatment for substance use disorder is considered a life sustaining activity, an essential activity that you need to continue to receive," she said. A full list of treatment facilities can be found here.

Related:

Montgomery County reported 110 new positive cases, bringing the countywide total to 888 cases. 

Philadelphia updates public on new cases

Meanwhile, Philadelphia's Department of Public Health confirmed 578 additional coronavirus cases Saturday, bringing the citywide total to 3,008. 

Nine new deaths were also reported, with the city's total now at 35.

Officials have noted clusters of cases forming in nursing homes, behavioral health facilities, and prisons, among other settings containing groups of people. 39 inmates have tested positive, including eight cases reported Saturday.

The city has opened a second testing site for the virus, open only to people over 50 who exhibit symptoms, or health care workers with symptoms. Officials did not disclose the location of the site, saying it was available by appointment only. Referalls can be obtained by calling (267) 491-5870.

KYW's Hadas Kuznits contributed to this story.

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