17870 DOH Corona Update

Pennsylvania Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine speaks during a press conference, announcing the eleventh presumptive positive case of 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Pennsylvania, inside PEMA headquarters on Tuesday, March 10, 2020.

This region has largely been spared not only from COVID-19 cases and deaths but particularly in nursing and personal care homes, which have accounted for two-thirds of the state's virus fatalities.

In facility-specific data released Tuesday, the Pennsylvania Department of Health shows that Haida Healthcare & Rehabilitation at 397 Third Ave. in Hastings is the only long-term living facility in Cambria, Somerset, Bedford or Blair counties that has had a resident with COVID-19. There have been no COVID-19 deaths in long-term care home across the four-county region.

The report shows Haida had fewer than five residents and no employees test positive.

Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine announced the nursing home breakdown during her daily press briefing on Tuesday.

As usual, she opened the briefing with the latest update on COVID-19 across the state.

The daily report showed no new local COVID-19 cases among the 610 new positive tests reported Tuesday by the health department.

The department also reported 119 additional deaths, bringing the state totals to 63,666 cases and 4,624 deaths.

Locally, there have been 36 cases reported in Somerset County, 54 cases and two deaths in Cambria County, 32 cases and two deaths in Bedford County and 38 cases and one death in Blair County.

'Very positive trend'

The 610 new cases represents the second-lowest daily update since March and is notable because Tuesday's reports have shown more cases in recent weeks due to delays over the weekend, the health department has noted.

It's also the ninth consecutive report with fewer than 1,000 new cases.

“We do consider this a very positive trend,” Levine said. “I think that we have been successful in terms of continuing to bend and straighten that curve in terms of additional cases of COVID-19.”

Announcing the new nursing home report, Levine noted that three response teams from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have come to Pennsylvania. Two are assisting with hard-hit nursing homes and the third is helping with the food industry.

“Long-term care facility residents are among the most vulnerable Pennsylvanians with the global pandemic of COVID-19,” she said. “We want families to have the latest information about what's going on in facilities where there loved ones reside.”

Although she noted a facility administration is responsible for keeping families informed, the state's new report provides the public with information. The report was developed after the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services provided direction for public reporting earlier this month.

In addition, the health department is tapping into multiple resources to help the nursing and personal care homes control infections. The National Guard has sent teams to more than a dozen homes and the health department's inspectors are working with all nursing homes.

'Test all the patients'

Since March, the department has done 465 inspections. Most of the inspections are being done remotely, but six were done on-site. Another 17 on-site inspections are in progress, Levine said.

She responded to criticism that Gov. Tom Wolf's testing plan does not require testing for all residents and staff at more than 1,900 facilities.

“We are going to be testing all those facilities,” Levine said. “It is not legally mandated testing, but we are going to go to those facilities and work with them and test every facility. We are going to test all the patients and we are going to test all the staff.”

The long-term care living facilities have reported 13,813 resident cases of COVID-19 and 2,191 cases among employees, for a total of 16,003 at 557 facilities in 44 counties.

Out of the state's 4,624 COVID-19 deaths, 3,145 have been residents from nursing or personal care facilities.

About 4,600 of Pennsylvania's total cases are in health care workers.

Randy Griffith is a multimedia reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at 532-5057. Follow him on Twitter @PhotoGriffer57.

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