The Pennsylvania Department of Health provided an update this afternoon on continuing efforts to mitigate the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Pennsylvania.
Since the update last evening, the state has reported two additional presumptive positive tests. This brings the total to six presumptive positives – four adults in Montgomery County, one adult in Delaware County and one in Wayne County. All have mild symptoms and are in isolation at home.
“While we anticipate that there will be more Pennsylvanians with COVID-19 in the coming days and weeks, it is important for residents to know the commonwealth is prepared and that they should be prepared too,” Dr. Levine said. “Right now, each of our presumed positive cases have traveled to a country or state with known community outbreaks or have come in contact with someone who has the virus. We are working with the health care community across Pennsylvania to keep them informed, consult on patient testing and ensure they have the resources they need to care for patients.”
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.
The recent widespread outbreak of the respiratory disease stemmed from a novel coronavirus that was first detected in China and which has now been detected in 60 locations internationally, including in the United States.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in people and many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats.
During the week of February 23, CDC reported community spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 in California (in two places), Oregon and Washington. Community spread in Washington resulted in the first death in the United States from COVID-19, as well as the first reported case of COVID-19 in a health care worker, and the first potential outbreak in a long-term care facility.
The CDC affirms that there are ongoing investigations to learn more. This is a rapidly evolving situation and information will be updated as it becomes available.
How will the coronavirus impact my community?
More cases of the coronavirus are likely to be identified in the coming days, according to the CDC. That includes a rapid increase in cases in the United States. It’s also likely that person-to-person spread will continue to occur, including in communities in the United States. It’s likely that at some point, widespread transmission of the coronavirus in the United States will occur.
Widespread transmission of the coronavirus would translate into large numbers of people needing medical care at the same time. Schools, childcare centers, workplaces, and other places for mass gatherings may experience more absenteeism. Public health and healthcare systems may become overloaded, with elevated rates of hospitalizations and deaths. Other critical infrastructure, such as law enforcement, emergency medical services, and transportation industry may also be affected. Health care providers and hospitals may be overwhelmed. At this time, there is no vaccine to protect against the coronavirus and no medications approved to treat it. Nonpharmaceutical interventions would be the most important response strategy.
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