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COVID-19 Update: Wednesday, April 7

The following is the latest COVID-19 information from Pennsylvania’s  state government as of 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 7..

Governor Wolf

  • Effective last Sunday, April 4, Governor Wolf and the Department of Health lifted the mandate that businesses operate through telework when possible.  Even so, the revised orders “highly encourage” continued use of telework if possible.  Learn more from the governor’s revised order, the revised Department of Health order, and this FAQ about this change.
  • This week Pennsylvanians in Phase 1B of the state’s vaccination plan became eligible to schedule COVID-19 vaccinations appointments, the Wolf administration announced in a news release.  Phase 1B eligible people include those living in congregate settings not otherwise specified as long-term-care facilities, people receiving home and community-based services, U.S. Postal Service workers, manufacturing workers, clergy and other essential support for houses of worship, public transit workers, and education workers.
  • The same news release notes that on April 12 all Pennsylvanians in Phase 1C will be eligible to start scheduling vaccination appointments and on April 19 all residents will be eligible to start scheduling vaccination appointments.
  • Pennsylvania has completed its campaign to vaccinate school teachers and staff, the governor’s office announced.  More than 112,000 such individuals were vaccinated.

Department of Health

The Department of Health has released a summary of all COVID-19-related health alerts, advisories, and updates it has issued during the pandemic, including information on which health alerts were replaced by others after release.

Department of Health – by the numbers

  • The daily number of new COVID-19 cases has risen in the past six weeks after a period of more modest numbers.  Nearly half of all new COVID-19 cases in the country were diagnosed in just five states last week and Pennsylvania is one of the five, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
  • Amid daily case counts higher now than they have been in recent months but much lower than they were in December and January and growing numbers of Pennsylvanians receiving vaccines, the number of COVID-19 tests being performed in the state, Department of Health data shows, is now roughly half of what it was at the pandemic’s peak during the first ten days of December.
  • Despite the rising number of new COVID-19 cases, daily death totals are not rising and are much lower than they were during the pandemic’s autumn and winter peak.
  • For the week from March 26 through April 1 the state’s overall COVID-19 test positivity rate was 9.5 percent, up from 7.6 percent last week.  This is the third consecutive week the state’s positivity rate has risen.
  • Ten counties currently have a positivity rate lower than five percent, down from 17 counties last week, and one has a rate greater than 20 percent.
  • Five counties are currently experiencing low levels of community transmission of COVID-19, down from six last week; 17 counties are experiencing moderate levels of community transmission, down from 26 last week; and 45 counties are currently experiencing substantial levels of community transmission, up from 35 counties last week.
  • The number of Pennsylvanians hospitalized with COVID-19, in hospital ICUs because of COVID-19, and on ventilators because of COVID-19 all continue to rise.
  • Currently, 21 percent of adult ICU beds in the state are unoccupied, as are 18 percent of medical/surgical beds, 17 percent of pediatric ICU beds, 30 percent of pediatric beds, and 36 percent of airborne isolation units.
  • Earlier this week, according to the state’s vaccine dashboard, the number of Pennsylvanians who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 passed the two-million mark.  This number does not include Philadelphia, which operates a separate COVID-19 vaccination program and where another 327,000 people have been vaccinated according to the city’s Department of Public Health.

Department of Human Services

DHS has updated its guidance on COVID-19 for personal care homes, assisted living residences, and private intermediate-care facilities.

Department of Education

The Pennsylvania Department of Education has released information on how individuals who become temporary nurse aides during the pandemic can become permanent nurse aides.  Go here for further information.

House Chamber of the State HouseGeneral Assembly

  • The state House on Tuesday passed House Bill 605, which provides limited immunity from COVID-19 liability.  The bill covers health care facilities and practitioners, schools, colleges and universities, child care centers, local governments, and companies that make personal protective equipment.  The bill also requires an arbitration program for personal injury lawsuits stemming from COVID-19.  The bill passed 107-95 and now moves to the Senate for consideration.
  • The state House this week passed House Bill 854, which requires state agencies and contractors – defined as any person who enters into a contract with a state agency – to preserve all COVID-19 records for at least 10 years after the disaster order is terminated.  The bill passed 111-90 and now heads to the Senate for consideration.

Around the State

  • Lancaster County’s mass vaccination site should be ready to reach its target capacity of 6000 vaccinations a day, Lancaster Online reports.
  • Philadelphia is expanding vaccine eligibility to sanitation workers, maintenance and janitorial staff, utility workers, and postal and package delivery workers this week, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
  • York County’s district attorney has tested positive for COVID-19, has symptoms, and is recovering and quarantining at home, the York Dispatch reports.
  • The operator of a Berks County COVID-19 clinic reported that demand for vaccines slowed enough last week that his staff needed to work to fill available appointments.  The Reading Eagle tells this unusual story.
  • The city of Allentown’s Health Bureau and its EMS staff will visit the homes of people whose health conditions make leaving home difficult to administer COVID-19 vaccines, according to the Allentown Morning Call.
  • FEMA will open a second vaccination site in Philadelphia, the Inquirer reports.  Once open, it is expected to administer 1500-2500 shots a day.  The facility will be staffed by FEMA, with help from the city and state.

Resources to Consult

Pennsylvania Department of Human Services

Main COVID-19 Page

COVID-19 Provider Resources

Press Releases

Pennsylvania Department of Health

Main COVID-19 Page

PA Health Alert Network

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Main COVID-19 Page

FAQ

Filed in Coronavirus, COVID-19.

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2012 Safety-Net Association of Pennsylvania