Local nursing homes not on list for COVID-19 cases | Bradford

MARCIE SCHELLHAMMER marcie@bradfordera.com

The much-anticipated release of data regarding COVID-19’s impact on long-term care facilities came Tuesday with some welcome news for the region — the virus wasn’t shown as being reported in local facilities.

No facilities in McKean, Elk, Cameron or Potter counties were listed. No facilities in bordering counties were listed either.

Statewide, there are 13,813 resident cases of COVID-19 and 2,191 cases among employees at 557 distinct facilities in 44 counties.

In Tuesday’s briefings, Gov. Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine both addressed the impact of the virus on patients in long-term care facilities.

“Long-term care facilities are the places around the world where this virus has wreaked havoc,” Wolf said, explaining it isn’t a problem specific to Pennsylvania. “Long-term care facilities are places that have dealt with infectious diseases from the beginning.

“This has just overwhelmed them,” the governor said. “This coronavirus is more contagious and infectious than anything we’ve seen before, at least in my lifetime. This has just overwhelmed everybody.”

Levine said Pennsylvania has received help from the CDC and the Pennsylvania National Guard to assist with the crisis in nursing homes. The focus is testing, education and distribution of resources, prevention and mitigation of outbreaks and a commitment to work together with the operators of the homes, she said.

The governor was asked about seemingly separate actions by his administration and by the General Assembly. The legislature has passed bills for reopening that Wolf vetoes, and legislators have been openly critical of Wolf’s approach.

“My suggestion would be we need to work together,” the governor said. “We’ve had various proposals to get the General Assembly and the administration to work together.

“I’ve expressed an eagerness to work with the General Assembly,” Wolf said, adding that he’d like to work with elected officials at state, county and local levels, too. “In general these are things we ought to be doing.”

However, legislators have said that Wolf will not consider ideas that are not his own phased approach.

Wolf referred to the distribution of the $3.9 billion in COVID-19 relief funds, saying he’s working with the legislature to determine where the funds are needed most. “I don’t want to do this unilaterally,” the governor said.

Wolf was asked, too, if he thought it was appropriate for school districts to suggest increasing taxes in their upcoming budgets.

“We’re in a pandemic and this is not a time to burden Pennsylvania with an additional burden or tax,” he said. “We ought to be looking to lighten the load.”

Levine was asked how the counties that have been open for nearly two weeks in the yellow phase are faring.

“We haven’t seen any large outbreaks,” she said. “So far the yellow counties are doing well.”

MARCIE SCHELLHAMMER marcie@bradfordera.com

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