Pennsylvania Is Preparing For Coronavirus

Feb 26, 2020

Pennsylvania’s health department is preparing for the expected arrival of COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus.

The respiratory virus—marked by fever, cough and shortness of breath—has already sickened 81,000 people and killed 2,700 people worldwide.

There are 57 U.S. residents with the virus, including about 40 who were quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, said Department of Health Secretary Doctor Rachel Levine. 

Nobody has had it in Pennsylvania, but the state expects that to change, and is bracing for “community spread” of the virus, Levine said. 

“It seems to be more communicable than influenza and it seems to lead to a higher fatality rate than influenza,” she said, adding that older people and those with others serious medical problems are those most at risk for serious complications. 

The health department’s emergency operations center is monitoring people who returned from China for symptoms, Levine said. She declined to say how many people the center is monitoring. 

The health department will notify the public if there are any confirmed cases, she said.  A person could be infected for up to two weeks before they show symptoms.

The state has stockpiles of protective equipment for medical workers and is seeking additional resources from the federal government, Levine said. 

 She recommended that people follow guidelines on the state’s family emergency plan and follow basic precautions for preventing the spread of diseases. 

“Pennsylvanians should continue to help stop the spread of viruses by washing your hands, covering coughs and sneezes, cleaning surfaces and staying home if you are sick.”