Harrisburg, PA (STL.News) Following a press conference announcing the first two presumptive positive cases of coronavirus, known as COVID-19, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf Friday signed an emergency disaster declaration to provide increased support to state agencies involved in the response to the virus.
“It’s imperative that we continue to respond quickly and accurately to the coronavirus and its introduction into Pennsylvania,” Gov. Wolf said. “First and foremost, we want all Pennsylvanians to be safe and remain healthy and follow the practical advice of the Department of Health on ways to protect yourself from any virus and that’s by washing hands, covering your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough and staying home if you are sick.
“It is critical to prepare for and respond to suspected or confirmed cases in the commonwealth and to implement measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The disaster declaration is an additional way we can be prepared, so I authorized the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency Director or his designee, to assume command and control of all statewide emergency operations and authorize and direct that all commonwealth departments and agencies use all available resources and personnel as is deemed necessary to cope with this emergency situation.”
The disaster declaration follows the Department of Health’s activation of its Department Operations Center at the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency’s headquarters to conduct public health and medical coordination for COVID-19 throughout the commonwealth and the governor’s announcement earlier this morning about two presumptive positive cases in Pennsylvania.
The one individual is an adult from Wayne County; the other is an adult from Delaware County.
To date, there are nearly 100,000 cases worldwide, including more than 3,300 deaths. There are 233 cases and 12 deaths to date in the United States. The CDC 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. CDC 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.
Individuals who intend on traveling outside of the United States are urged to check the CDC’s and the federal Department of State’s travel guidance. Currently there are outbreaks of COVID-19 occurring within numerous countries across the world. The number of countries seeing new cases has increased significantly over the last week.
“As this situation evolves, we will continually update Pennsylvanians through our website, health.pa.gov, our Facebook page and our Twitter account,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “It’s important to remember that the most accurate and timely information regarding this outbreak is available through the Department of Health.”
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.
Anyone who does not feel well should:
- 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 their elbow, not their hands.
- Contain – If someone is sick, they should stay home until they are feeling better.
In addition to the emergency disaster declaration to date the Wolf Administration has:
- Activated of the Department of Health’s Emergency Operations Center to allow for enhanced response coordination;
- Began testing for COVID-19 at the state laboratory;
- Maintained communication and outreach with federal, state and local partners;
- Provided symptom monitoring for residents returning from areas impacted by coronavirus;
Provided health care providers, businesses and education providers with information;
- Reviewed and adapted current pandemic flu plans to prepare for spread of COVID-19;
- Increased testing capacity to test 20 to 25 individuals daily;
- Purchased equipment to increase testing capacity to 125 to 150 individuals within a day.
- Partially activated the Commonwealth Response Coordination Center at PEMA.