Erie County Update: April 23, 2020
Three new cases found as county looks to move into first phase of reopening
There were three new cases of COVID-19 reported in Erie County, bringing the total to 68 positives, and 1416 negatives. There are now 39 recovered cases (for a total of 29 active cases) and still no deaths due to the disease. Going forward, Dahlkemper confirmed that all probable cases will be folded into the main total of cases in order to cut down on confusion.
Of these cases, two are in their teens, and one is in their 30s. All three of these cases reside in Zone 1 (the City of Erie) and have connections to known cases.
In her remarks today, Erie County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper took a moment to apologize and clarify a remark from yesterday's address. She praised the skills of EMTs, and regretted to referring to them as simply "ambulance drivers."
Statewide, Dr. Rachel Levine reported that there were 1,369 new cases (more than 200 more than the day before), for a statewide total of 37,053. 142,061 patients have tested negative, and there have been 1,421 deaths out of those who have tested positive for COVID-19.
Crawford County has 19 cases (up two from yesterday), while McKean County remains at five. Warren County has one case. Chautauqua County has 28 (up one) cases and three deaths. Ashtabula County now has 80 (up four) cases and six deaths.
It was cited that the Environmental Task Force responded to 46 complaints yesterday.
Dahlkemper addressed Governor Wolf's statements from yesterday evening, where he cited the northwest PA (and north-central PA) would likely be moved to the Yellow phase on May 8.
The county is currently working with the state to determine a list of what will and will not open.
"Keep in mind that when more businesses are reopening, we must remain vigilant to social distancing, hand hygiene, and universal masking. Masks have to be part of our wardrobe now," Dahlkemper explained.
Dahlkemper also noted that temperature-taking by businesses is highly recommended but not required. She specified, however, that "businesses who have had an exposure to COVID-19 must implement temperature screening."
"Even though the stay-at-home order may be lifted, I'm still going to be on here encouraging everyone to stay home as much as possible," Dahlkemper warned. "Those kinds of things are not going away. Universal masking is going to be with us for many, many months," she said, echoing her statements from yesterday.
"We've really placed ourselves in a good position. But, COVID-19 is out there, make no mistake." She went on to say "I don't we'll be having large gatherings this summer, I don't foresee that happening. It's not going to be the same summer with all of our concerts and all of our festivals, and all of our very, very big gatherings." The Yellow phase of reopening would restrict gatherings of 25 or more people.
Today, as has become the weekly practice, the County Executive was joined by our region's healthcare partners. In attendance via Zoom were Emily Shears, Director of Infection Prevention at UPMC Hamot, Monsignor David Rubino, Ph.D., Vice President of External Affairs at LECOM Health, Dr. Wayne Jones Medical Director of Emergency Medicine from Allegheny Health Network at St. Vincent, and Dorene M. Sommers, Associate Director of Patient Care Services for the Erie Veteran's Affairs Medical Center.
Shears noted that UPMC Hamot has tested approximately 800 patients, and have continued to see a positivity rating of three percent (around 24 cases by this math).
Jones, amidst other updates, noted that Dick's sporting goods in conjunction with AHN recently donated fanny packs (stocked with sanitizer, a surgical mask, and a bag to put the used mask in, and a face shield) to all their personnel who do direct patient care.
Jones cited "the deep concern that I and many of us have for the health of our community. We're finding that patients are not seeking healthcare at this time. They're very worried about being exposed to COVID." He implored "please, if you need healthcare, seek it out. I think that the chance of getting COVID is much less than succumbing to a disease that we could help you overcome."
In addition to providing an update on LECOM's facilities, Mons. Rubino passed along information from the behavioral health department, and specifically wanted to speak about parents with children at home. They advised keeping a routine, knowing that no one is perfect, engaging with their child, and having fun. They especially noted for parents to take care of themselves and their own mental wellness.