Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) is supplementing staffing in the Commonwealth Response Coordination Center (CRCC) to monitor the progress of COVID-19, more commonly referred to as “coronavirus,” with specially trained staff from multiple state agencies.
The CRCC staffing will include personnel from the following agencies, departments and organizations: Office of Administration; Agriculture; Banking and Securities; Community and Economic Development; Corrections; Education; General Services; Health; Drug and Alcohol Programs; Insurance; Military and Veterans Affairs; Human Services; PA State Police; Transportation; PA State System of Higher Education; PA Turnpike Commission; PA Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (PA VOAD); and American Red Cross.
“In the coming days and weeks, we are anticipating that the number of presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 will grow,” said PEMA Director Randy Padfield. “PEMA is in contact with our county emergency management partners and we are ready to provide assistance when and where it is needed. Bringing other state agencies into the CRCC allows us to more quickly access state resources when requests come in.”
Symptoms of the COVID-19 can include fever, cough and shortness of breath. The symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. Reported illnesses have ranged from people with little to no symptoms to people being severely ill and dying. Individuals most at risk for severe symptoms include elderly and those with pre-existing conditions.
You are reminded to:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol- based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
- Cover any coughs or sneezes with your elbow, not your hands.
- Clean surfaces frequently, such as countertops, light switches, cell phones and other frequently touched areas.
- If you are sick, you should stay home until you are feeling better.
To date, there are nearly 128,000 cases worldwide, including more than 4,700 deaths. There are 1,323 cases and 38 deaths to date in the United States. The department expects cases to continue to be confirmed in the upcoming days and weeks but wants everyone to take action to help prevent the spread of the virus. The department also said due to the rapidly changing nature of the spread of COVID-19 around the world, it is important for families to be prepared.
The Wolf Administration Preparedness Actions
The World Health Organization first announced the coronavirus outbreak in late January and the Pennsylvania Department of Health has had its Department Operations Center operating since February 1. The center allows for a collaborative, concentrated state response, including:
- Maintained communication and outreach with federal, state and local partners;
- Reviewed and adapted current pandemic flu plans to prepare for spread of COVID-19;
- Provided symptom monitoring for residents returning from areas impacted by coronavirus;
- Provided health care providers, businesses and education providers with information;
- Begun testing for COVID-19 at the state laboratory;
- Increased testing capacity;
- Governor Tom Wolf signed an emergency disaster declaration March 6 to ensure state agencies involved in the response have the expedited resources they need to continue to focus on the virus and its possible spread.
Gov. Wolf, Sec. of Health Outline COVID-19 Mitigation Guidance for Montgomery County, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Governor and Secretary of Health Take Aggressive Action to Stop Spread
Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine this afternoon provided an update on the state’s COVID-19 mitigation efforts, including one new presumptive positive case in Pike County, bringing the state’s total to 22, and guidance on how to reduce the spread of the virus.
“In Montgomery County, we are aggressively moving to a mitigation phase, and statewide we are providing guidance to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus,” said Gov. Wolf.
The governor provided applicable guidance to reduce the spread of the virus in the state over the next 14 days, specifically for commonwealth facilities and public buildings in Montgomery County, which with 13 cases has the most presumptive positive cases in the state.
Guidance for Montgomery County and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
• The following guidance will be in place starting tomorrow, March 13, for fourteen days.
• We will evaluate our options throughout that period, and continue to communicate to you as we learn more.
• A no visitor policy will be implemented for correctional facilities, nursing homes, and others to be evaluated.
• Schools in Montgomery County will be closed starting tomorrow, as will child care centers licensed by the Commonwealth.
• Adult day care centers will be closed.
• Freedom of travel will remain, but the Governor and the Commonwealth ask all people to refrain from non-essential travel.
• Essential services will be available: police, fire, and emergency medical services, essential services for vulnerable populations.
• Supermarkets, pharmacies, and gas stations will remain open. The Governor and the Commonwealth recommends that non-essential retail facilities close.
• AMTRAK will begin operating a reduced schedule and the Ardmore stop will close to AMTRAK trains for two weeks, beginning tomorrow. The Wolf Administration is also working directly with SEPTA to evaluate potential impacts and will continue to provide service updates as things evolve.
• The Office of Administration will provide a message to all Commonwealth employees regarding those who work or live in Montgomery County.
• This includes individuals who live in Montgomery County and work in other counties and those who live in other counties and work in Montgomery County.
• Individuals will be instructed to work from home.
• The Commonwealth is authorizing a 10 workday paid absence for individuals who don’t have telework capabilities.
• Facilities that are in Montgomery County that are Commonwealth facilities and provide
essential services will remain open.
• Facilities that are administered by Montgomery County will follow the same procedures as the county.
• The Wolf Administration strongly encourages the suspension of large gatherings, events, conferences of 250 individuals or more.
• The Wolf Administration discourages individuals from traveling to recreational activities like gyms, movie theaters and shopping malls.
• The Wolf Administration encourages religious leaders to exercise discretion in order to mitigate the spread of illness.
State correctional facilities and veterans homes have already introduced a statewide visitor ban to ensure the safety of inmates, residents, staff and visitors.
COVID-19 Case Information Update
The Department of Health advised that the state now has 22 presumptive positive cases of COVID-19, including one new presumptive positive case in Pike County – an adult who is in isolation at home and who came in contact with someone from another state who tested positive for COVID-19.
State presumptive positive totals as of 2 p.m. include:
Montgomery County: 13
Bucks County: 2
Philadelphia County: 1
Monroe County: 2
Delaware County: 1
Wayne County: 1
Pike County: 1
The Department of Health stressed the role Pennsylvanians play in helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19:
• Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
• Cover any coughs or sneezes with your elbow, not your hands.
• Clean surfaces frequently.
• If you are sick, stay home until you are feeling better.
Quotes from Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary Rachel Levine
“I strongly encourage the statewide suspension of large gatherings, events, conferences of 250 individuals or more and discourage people from traveling to recreational activities such as gyms, movie theaters and shopping malls,” Gov. Wolf said. “And while people are free to travel, I ask that everyone refrain from non-essential travel. We all need to do our part to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. The time to do this is now. We cannot wait.”
“Essential services in Montgomery County – police, fire, and emergency medical services, public transportation, essential services for vulnerable populations such as our facilities for people with intellectual disabilities and autism – will still be operational,” Gov. Wolf said. “Supermarkets, pharmacies, and gas stations will remain open, but we do recommend that non-essential retail facilities close.”
“This situation is quickly evolving, even for us here at the Department of Health,” Dr. Levine said. “It can be overwhelming and scary to hear that you should stay home. Aside from practicing good health habits, we want you to practice good self-care to ensure your body is getting the proper nutrients from fruits, vegetables and getting enough sleep.”
“As this situation evolves, we will continually update Pennsylvanians through our website,health.pa.gov, our Facebook page and our Twitter account,” Dr. Levine said.
“It’s important to remember that the most accurate and timely information regarding this outbreak is available through the Department of Health.”
Updated Coronavirus Links: Press Releases, State Lab Photos, Graphics
For the daily COVID-19 Report, visit here.
For all press releases regarding coronavirus, please visit here.
Find the latest information on the coronavirus here.
Photos of the state’s lab in Exton are available for download and use here.
Coronavirus and preparedness graphics are available here near the bottom of the page: On.pa.gov/coronavirus