Pennsylvania officials grapple with the state’s medical needs as the number of cases of coronavirus continues to surge higher

Written by on March 27, 2020

 Pennsylvania officials grapple with the state’s medical needs as the number of cases of coronavirus continues to surge higher 

By Tyler Pratt

March 27, 2020

There are 560 new positive cases of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania, bringing the statewide total to nearly 1700 in 48 counties, with a 45 percent increase in cases in the Lehigh Valley. 

Northampton County now has 56 positives and there are 63 in Lehigh County, with one new death. 

As WLVR’s Tyler Pratt reports, the governor and state health officials are warning they expect those numbers to continue to rise rapidly and are racing to beef up healthcare systems. 

Governor Tom Wolf announced Thursday, March 26, that he was setting aside $50 million dollars to help support state hospitals. He said healthcare systems across the state are bracing for a surge in new patients with COVID-19.

“We need to ensure they have the equipment to care for these patients so they don’t have to ration or make unimaginable choices about who receives care,” said Wolf. 

The $50 million Wolf announced will be used if money from his previous disaster proclamation runs out.  It’s for hospital beds, ventilators, and personal protective equipment in hospitals, nursing homes, and for emergency workers. 

What it doesn’t address is the possible closure of Easton Hospital. According to published reports, it needs 40 million dollars to stay afloat or it would shutter next week. Wolf didn’t have an answer Thursday, but did have this to say:

“We need to keep our hospitals open during this very important time,” said Governor Wolf. 

Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said regulations have also been waived around where patients can be housed inside hospitals so more people can be treated. And officials are looking for “outside the box” options to repurpose facilities for others

“Even hotels might be used for some more acute beds for patients as they finish their recovery,” said Levine.

Finally, the commonwealth has created a critical healthcare supplies portal to help source materials for sale from manufacturers, distributors, and suppliers. And healthcare providers will be able to request what they need.  


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