Gov. Wolf: Pennsylvania Shares Update on COVID-19 Dashboard, Mitigation Efforts in Long-Term Care Facilities

Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine today released a weekly status update detailing the state’s mitigation efforts based on the COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring System Dashboard, comparing the seven-day period of July 31 – August 6 to the previous seven days, July 24 – July 30, along with an update on mitigation efforts in all long-term care facilities to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

The dashboard is designed to provide early warning signs of factors that affect the state’s mitigation efforts. The data available on the dashboard includes week-over-week case differences, incidence rates, test percent-positivity, and rates of hospitalizations, ventilations and emergency room visits tied to COVID-19.

“The decreased case counts across the state, and in many counties this week, indicate that the tough decisions we have had to make are protecting Pennsylvanians,” Gov. Wolf said. “Our percent positivity decreased for the second week in a row, which continues to reflect the willingness of Pennsylvanians to take steps to protect themselves and their neighbors. We must continue to wear masks, practice social distancing and avoid large gathering to keep our numbers low, which will stop the spread and allow more freedom.”

As of Thursday, August 6, the state has seen a seven-day case increase of 5,016. The previous seven-day increase was 6,228, showing that new cases decreased in the last seven days by 1,252 cases throughout the state.

The statewide percent-positivity went down to 4.1% from 4.6% last week. Counties with concerning percent-positivity include Union (11.8%), Indiana (7.9%), Fayette (7.7%), Fulton (7.4%), Huntingdon (6.7%), Erie (6.2%), Mercer (6.2%), Lawrence (6.0%), Northumberland (6.0%), York (5.8%), Clearfield (5.7%), Luzerne (5.4%), Juniata (5.3%), Lancaster (5.3%), Beaver (5.2%), Delaware (5.2%), and Mifflin (5.0%). Each of these counties bear watching as the state continues to monitor all available data.

Today, the Department of Health updated its travel recommendations, originally announced on July 2, to add Nebraska, North Dakota and Wisconsin to the list of states recommended for domestic travelers returning from to quarantine for 14 days upon return to Pennsylvania.

It is important that people understand that this recommendation is in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania. A significant number of recent cases have been linked to travel, and if people are going to travel, we need them to take steps to protect themselves, their loved ones and their community, and that involves quarantining.

The Wolf Administration continues to bolster resources available to the commonwealth to support the strategy to protect residents of long-term care facilities (LTCFs) by focusing on ensuring resident safety through education, resources and testing; preventing and mitigating outbreaks; and working in partnership with other state agencies, municipal and county health departments and LTCFs.

“Throughout this pandemic, the Department of Health and our partners have worked tirelessly to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, especially in vulnerable communities like long-term care facilities,” Secretary of Health Dr. Levine said. “Our ongoing mitigation efforts are working to stop this virus before spreading further and we will not stop as long as COVID-19 remains a threat in our communities. We will continue to do everything in our power to provide support and resources to facilities for their staff and residents to ensure they are safe from this dangerous virus.”

As of August 7, the Department of Health has deployed these mitigation efforts to further stop the spread of COVID-19 and best protect residents and staff of LTCFs:

  • Completed 100 percent completion of the baseline universal testing in nursing homes.
  • Ordered all other long-term care facilities to complete the baseline universal testing.
  • Pushed out over 2,500 shipments of PPE to date, which has included more than 315,000 gowns, more than 350,000 face shields, more than 1 million gloves, more than 2.8 million N95 masks and nearly 1.2 million surgical masks.
  • Deployed 69 Pennsylvania National Guard Strike Teams to 34 different LTCFs.
  • Responded to 100 percent of outbreaks, defined as one or more confirmed positive case among staff or residents, in LTCFs.
  • Provided advice and consultation on infection control and outbreak response to facilities where needed.
  • Collaborated, partnered and received report from local, state and federal resources, along with contracted support from ECRI.

Through the collaborations and partnerships with ECRI and Patient Safety Authority (PSA), the department provided infection control and technical assistance to over 130 and 90 different LTCFs, respectively. The Educational Support and Clinical Consultation Program (ESCCP) team has provided clinical guidance, advice on infection control strategies, and clinical needs identification to over 250 facilities.

The Department of Human Services (DHS) and Department of Health, in coordination with the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), have developed the Regional Response Health Collaboration Program (RRHCP). This program is designed to directly support COVID-19 readiness and response in long-term residential care facilities, including skilled nursing facilities, personal care homes and assisted living residences. The RRHCP will provide operational and administrative support to protect residents in long-term care facilities from COVID-19. It will help facilities implement best practices in infection control, implement contact tracing programs in facilities, support clinical care through on-site and telemedicine services, provide remote monitoring and consultation with physicians, and enhance testing capability for both individuals in care and staff at facilities.

Gov. Wolf continues to prioritize the health and safety of all Pennsylvanians through the COVID-19 pandemic. Pennsylvanians should continue to take actions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, regardless of the status of their county. This includes wearing a mask or face covering anytime they are in public. COVID-19 has been shown to spread easily in the air and contagious carriers can be asymptomatic.