Lehigh Valley Health Network says social distancing in Hazleton is helping


HAZLETON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) It’s been almost a month since the first confirmed case of coronavirus was announced in the Poconos.

Doctors at Lehigh Valley Hospital in Hazleton held a news conference Monday to update the public on how the city and its residents are doing.

There’s some good news. Doctors say the number of coronavirus cases have leveled off. After hitting a peak of 30 patients in the hospital last week, there are now 22 people.

“We’ve had a total of somewhere between 80 and 90 total patients admitted to the hospital with COVID-19 disease. And obviously with having 22 left in the building, we’ve discharged about 70 patients,” said Dr. Anthony Valente, Lehigh Valley Hospital Hazleton.

But to keep that number declining, John Fletcher, president of the hospital, says it’s vital to follow public health guidelines.

“It’s a crucial time, critical time for the community as to where we go from here. So we cannot take our foot off the gas as it relates to the social distancing, the washing of hands, the staying at home,” said Fletcher.

He says staff are working at full ability to help patients.

“They’re doing great. They are hanging in there and they understand what they need to do.”

Due to a shortage of testing supplies, the hospital is now following CDC guidelines to prioritize testing. Symptomatic patients, those who are over 65 years old and patients with other conditions like those who have heart disease, lung disease, and immuno-suppression are being tested.

“By doing that, that allows us to continue testing all patients that come to the hospital and the sicker, more vulnerable patients, by adopting this strategy we’re gonna be able to continue to provide the appropriate care,” said Dr. Michael Evans.

The doctors also urged caution when it comes to reopening businesses.

“I find it troubling to hear that people feel comfortable enough at this point that they want to start opening things up without knowing whether it’ll have a negative impact,” said Dr. Evans.

The doctors also remind people that they are required to wear masks to enter essential businesses.
Fletcher also says that the hospital is still equipped and ready to handle emergencies unrelated to coronavirus.

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