Erie County Update: May 21, 2020
For the second day in a row, the largest single-day amount of COVID-19 cases was announced
Erie County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper began her press conference today by stating "what's import for you to know today, is that we have 21 new cases."
Once again, this was the largest number of positive cases reported in a single day, with 38 new cases reported in the last two days alone. This brings the county to a total of 183 cumulative positives, with 3,558 negatives, and 121 recovered cases (for a total of 62 current active cases). So far, there have been three deaths of Erie County residents reported due to COVID-19, with a fourth being reported by the state
"Right here, right now, I am begging you to help us. Each and every one of you. Please help us stop the spread of COVID-19 in Erie County," Dahlkemper implored.
The County Executive went on to re-stress the importance of social distancing practices, proper hygiene procedures and tips, and masking.
She was quick to highlight the "model business" of the day: Giant Eagle, who has properly enforced masking, with pandemic officer at the door, and has utilized online shopping and curbside pickup.
"If our numbers continue to go up, we will not be looking at the Green phase at any time soon," Dahlkemper warned. "In fact, there is more of a chance that we would look to return to the Red phase, and that is not a good scenario for our residents or our businesses."
Dahlkemper noted that over the 14-day period, our cases per 100,00 was now at 32.5, with 50 being the state's cutoff for possibly returning to the Red phase. That metric alone though, is not the sole reason the state would move a county back to the Red phase, with one of those factors including hospital capacity. Dahlkemper cited that Erie County had the 27th most cases of COVID-19 while being the 15th most populated of PA's 67 counties.
Joining the press conference today via Zoom was Charlotte Berringer, director of community health services at Erie County Department of Health. Berringer detailed the contact tracing going on through the county, and repeatedly noted that new contact tracers were being trained to meet the demands of growing numbers.
Dahlkemper has been in talks with the state, and seemed to have no expectations that Erie would be in the first round of counties announced to move into the Green phase. Both Dahlkemper and Berringer stated that they would be surprised if Erie County entered the Green phase
According to the PA National Electronic Disease Surveillance System (PA NEDSS), Erie County's hospital preparedness data is:
Available Adult ICU Beds: 43
Available Medical/Surgical Beds: 118
Available Pediatric ICU Beds: 0
Available Airborne Isolation Room Beds: 13
Total Number of Ventilators: 156
Ventilators in Use (COVID-19): 0
Ventilators in Use (non-COVID-19): 39
When asked if this spike was unexpected and if they were concerned, Berringer was quick to note that "it was not unexpected, but yes we are concerned."
Statewide, there were 980 additional positive cases, for a total of 65,392 total cases. So far, there have been 4,869 deaths statewide. 303,514 patients who have tested negative to date.
Crawford County stands at 21 positive cases (no change since last Monday), with McKean County at 11 cases (no change since May 18), with one death. Venango County remains at eight positive cases (no change since May 18). Warren County now has three cases (up one).
Chautauqua County remains at 57 cases (up four) and four deaths. Ashtabula County has 250 cases (up 18) and 26 deaths (up two). Due to the state's late reporting on May 20, any numerical shifts occurred over the course of two days.