Governor Tom Wolf announced on March 6, two presumptive positive cases of novel coronavirus in Pennsylvania. This marked the first instance of the virus in the commonwealth. By Saturday, March 27th, that number had risen to 2,751 with 533 new cases.
The first death due to coronavirus was reported in Pennsylvania on March 18th in Northampton County. The second was reported on March 21st in Allegheny County. Monroe and Montgomery County reported their first deaths on Sunday, March 22nd. As of Saturday, March 28th, there have been 34 reported deaths statewide.
The Department of Health announced they are no longer required to send positive samples to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. All cases tested positive in the state are now considered positive and not presumptive positive.
All K-12 schools in Pennsylvania have closed and many colleges and universities have transitioned to online education. Parades and local events have been postponed locally as the number of cases in the United States rose to over a thousand, they now stand over 69 thousand.
In Luzerne county, an intern that was possibly exposed to the virus has prompted the sanitation of a family court building. There are now 36 cases confirmed in the county, it is not yet known if any case was the intern. One death has been reported in the county.
Lackawanna County has confirmed its first positive case on Wednesday, March 18. By Thursday, March 25, the county had 28 cases and two COVID-19 related deaths.
Here’s what we know about the virus:
On March 26, cases of the novel coronavirus worldwide crossed half a million. Over 80 thousand of those cases were recorded in the U.S. which is now the country with the most cases ahead of China and Italy. There have now been over 1,000 deaths in the U.S.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says that the novel coronavirus has a global mortality rate of about 3.4%. This is more than three times the seasonal flu which generally kills fewer than 1% of those infected. In comparison, according to estimates, the 2018-2019 seasonal flu killed about .1% of those infected nationally.
On Wednesday, March 11, the organization officially declared the novel virus a pandemic as over 100,000 people have been infected in over 100 countries around the globe.
According to a report out of China, 16% of cases of the viral infection become serious. Older people and those with pre-existing conditions are especially at risk. In China, over 70% of the around 80,000 confirmed cases have recovered.
There are three specific symptoms of the novel coronavirus. They are fever, cough and shortness of breath. These symptoms are thought to appear between 2 and 14 days after exposure.
It is not yet known if the virus can spread before the onset of symptoms. However, one case was reported in Germany where scientists say transmission may have occurred during the incubation period.
According to the WHO Director General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, smoking can increase your risk of developing severe symptoms if you become infected with COVID-19. He also warned young people in a speech, saying “you are not invincible. This virus could put you in hospital for weeks, or even kill you.”
To date, in the U.S., the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports there are 85,356 confirmed cases of the coronavirus. According to Johns Hopkins, which collects CDC and local reports across the country, that number is 92,932.
The country has now reported 1,380 deaths.
On Friday, New York Andrew Cuomo ordered all non-essential workers to stay home and canceled all non-essential gatherings. He previously ordered a one mile containment zone in New Rochelle, a suburb of New York City which has become the center of an outbreak. Residents of the state are still allowed to move freely as cases top 10 thousand.
Below is a map of all the confirmed cases of the novel virus nationwide that have been reported by Johns Hopkins. This may differ from CDC reports since the numbers are only updated one a day and close out after business hours. We will be updating this map as more information becomes available.
As of March 17, after West Virginia reported a case, every state has at least one person that tested positive. Twenty-seven states in the country now have confirmed sustained community transfer, including Pennsylvania.
As of March 5, 2020, 1,583 patients had been tested at the CDC. However, as states report their own numbers, the CDC is “no longer reporting the number of persons under investigation”.
Currently, the CDC states that the risk of exposure to most residents remains low but the agency states the risk will increase as the outbreak expands.
The White House released new guidelines called 15 Days to Stop the Spread. They include recommending that older Americans stay home and away from other people. View them here.
As of March 16, the agency suggests organizers cancel or postpone all in-person events of 50 people or more for the next 8 weeks.
On March 8, the agency recommended that people at higher risk of serious illness, such as the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions, avoid cruise travel and non-essential air travel.
The CDC recommends everyone help prevent the spread of diseases like the novel coronavirus by taking every-day precautions such as washing hands often, cleaning frequently touched objects, and staying home if you are sick.
On Tuesday, the CDC released new guidelines for employers, commercial establishments, school officials and the general public on what they can do to prevent the spread of the virus. View them here.