What You Need to Know: COVID spikes in the Lehigh Valley & possible vaccine in Pa.

Written by on November 20, 2020

What You Need to Know: COVID spikes in the Lehigh Valley & possible vaccine in Pa.

By Jen Rehill and Brad Klein

November 20, 2020

Photo by TheStewartofNY/GC Images

The polls closed two and a half weeks ago, but our regular Friday feature What You Need to Know continues on, with a focus on COVID-19 and other top stories from the Lehigh Valley.

Listen to the episode.

COVID-19 numbers continue to rise here in Pennsylvania, much like the rest of the nation, and we are seeing a record number of cases. Yesterday, Nov. 19, there were more than 7,000 cases reported in Pennsylvania. The state has broken records every day over the last two weeks.

In Lehigh and Northampton counties, we are now seeing more than 200 cases every day, and that adds up. The region added nearly 3,500 new cases in the past two weeks, which is a 30% spike in the last month.

Hospitalizations are up as well. We are already hearing about how local health systems and bureaus are struggling to keep up with those numbers.

There are no plans right now for another state-wide shutdown or state-wide school closures. But we did hear from Governor Wolf and Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine this week on new COVID travel and safety restrictions.

Beginning on Friday, Nov. 20, anyone who enters Pennsylvania has to either get tested 72 hours before they come in and get a negative test or quarantine for 14 days after their arrival. That goes for both visitors and Pennsylvania residents coming back into the state.

There are stricter rules on masking as well. Anyone who is indoors with people who are not from their own household must wear masks, even if they are physically distancing themselves. The exception is at restaurants, when people sit down at the table to eat.

State officials are also telling hospitals to make their plans now for when they start to run out of the beds such as possibly canceling elective surgeries.

The state is also advising people to not travel or gather for the holidays. Thanksgiving is right around the corner, but state officials are urging people to not gather due to evidence that small groups can still spread the virus in the community.

Dr. Fauci even said on Morning Edition that his own daughters will not have a big Thanksgiving dinner this year. It’s something that many people are grappling with.

However, Dr. Rachel Levine did say this week that Pennsylvania could see a COVID-19 vaccine in the next month, and they have plans to distribute it.

They are expecting a limited supply, but the state has a three-phase plan for who is going to get the vaccine first.

Health care-workers, EMS first responders, people over 65 years old and people in long-term care facilities will be among the first to be able to get the vaccine. Second, people with high-risk medical conditions, and then third, the general population.

State officials are warning, though, that this doesn’t mean the pandemic will be over. People can expect to continue to wear masks and physically distance themselves when in public most likely through the end of 2021.

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