Heading off COVID-19 crisis in PA hospitals

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(WBRE/WYOU) — Of the COVID-19 cases diagnosed in Pennsylvania, 316 people have required hospitalization. As those numbers continue to grow, Governor Tom Wolf’s administration is relaxing regulations to help hospitals meet the demand head-on.

We’ve seen the COVID-19 hospital crisis play out in New York: too many patients stressing supplies and staff. It’s a huge problem Governor Tom Wolf says Pennsylvania must avoid.

“We need to control the spread of COVID-19 to prevent our hospitals from becoming overburdened and we need to buy time to get the materials and people we need to fight this disease,” Governor Wolf said.

Roughly 11.5 percent of all COVID-19 cases in the Commonwealth to date have required hospitalization. 97 patients ended up in intensive care, 56 of them on ventilators. The numbers are growing.

“We’re busy building an army of medical professionals to care for everyone who becomes ill during this crisis and that includes more people to handle the surge of COVID-19 patients,” Wolf said.

At a Saturday news conference, Governor Wolf announced one way he plans to handle the surge: calling in the reserves. The Commonwealth is temporarily lifting certain regulations to allow medical professionals, including some retirees, to handle medical needs that are not COVID-19 related.

“We have many highly experienced medical professionals who have retired and allowed their licenses to lapse. If these professionals are in good standing, we’re going to be letting them reactivate their licenses without fees and without needing to take continuing education credits,” Wolf said.

Out-of-state practitioners will also be allowed to practice in Pennsylvania. Telemedicine has expanded and a portal has been launched to purchase necessary supplies. Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine is confident Pennsylvania’s public servants are up to the task.

“They are really working around the clock to make sure that facilities have what they need, that physicians are able to do the consultations that they need of sick patients,” Dr. Levine said.

Governor Wolf also asked anyone in Pennsylvania who’s been to New York City recently to self-quarantine for at least two weeks. And President Trump is considering an enforceable quarantine for New York, New Jersey, and parts of Connecticut.

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