SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — The number of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 in Pennsylvania has risen to 14,599.
In northeastern and central Pennsylvania, many counties are seeing double digits with the exceptions of Schuylkill, Pike, Lackawanna, Monroe, and Luzerne, which has the highest number of people with the coronavirus at nearly 1,000 cases.
Among the cases in Lackawanna County, we learned Tuesday that some residents at Allied Services Skilled Nursing Center in Scranton have tested positive for COVID-19. The non-profit health system did not put a number to the amount of cases. The disclosure points to a pressing concern about the virus spread in long-term care facilities.
Seniors at long-term care facilities make up the population most vulnerable to COVID-19. The subject of safety at these facilities during the coronavirus crisis was a major talking point at Tuesday’s daily state briefing. Pennsylvania Department of Health secretary Dr. Rachel Levine acknowledged that long-term care facilities are fueling Pennsylvania’s growing number of COVID-19 cases.
“Nursing homes and other long-term care living facilities remain of significant concern to us with vulnerable populations of seniors in those with other chronic medical conditions. So we are doing everything we can to protect the staff and the patients in those long-term care living facilities,” Dr. Levine said.
One concern raised confidentially to Eyewitness News is that some long-term care workers don’t even have the most basic protective equipment at their disposal while caring for vulnerable individuals.
“They will need the proper personal protective equipment and to date we have the resources to be able to supply that. It is a constant balance with PPE. We have PPE stores coming in and then we push it out to the healthcare coalitions to distribute to hospital and health systems as well as nursing homes and other long-term care living facilities,” Dr. Levine said.
Others have reached out to Eyewitness News complaining their worksites which are not health oriented are not supplying masks to employees who work at life-sustaining jobs.
“We have recommended that when people are outside their homes that they wear a mask but businesses are not required by law to supply masks. I think it would be great if they could,” Dr. Levine said.
Whether it’s in the workplace or at home, Dr. Levine says we all play a critical role during the coronavirus crisis.
“We are really relying upon people in Pennsylvania to do the right thing. The right thing is to stay home or if you are going to go out to be active to do that in a solitary way. And we strongly recommend that people do not go out and socialize together even though it might be nice weather in a park because that could spread this very dangerous virus,” Dr. Levine said.
Some numbers for you now: Dr. Levine said 664 of Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 cases are healthcare workers and first responders and that 674 are in long-term care facilities. She also said that 51 percent of the state’s hospital beds and 40 percent of intensive care beds and ventilators are still available.
Dr. Levine said to prevent those resources from being ovewhelmed, it’s critical we stay and obey the statewide stay at home order.