PA Curve Flattens But 'Now Is Not The Time' To Reopen: Officials

·2 min read

HARRISBURG, PA — Pennsylvania has been able to "bend the curve” of new coronavirus cases but it is too early to start considering lifting the mitigation efforts that have helped slow the rate of infections, the state's top health official said Saturday.

“Previously, we were seeing an exponential rise of COVID-19,” Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine said during a Saturday news conference. While there are still high numbers of new cases daily, "we’re not seeing as many new cases as we had before."

The "tentative conclusion" is that the state has been able to bend the curve, she said.

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Her comments came as 1,676 new cases were confirmed in Pennsylvania. There were also 78 new deaths among positive cases, bringing the statewide total to 494. "We will get through this because of each other, and we will be stronger for it," she said during a Saturday news conference.

Gov. Tom Wolf on Friday said he believes Pennsylvania will experience its surge next week.

When that does happen, it will be a wave of new cases that will go up and down, but it won’t be a "tidal wave that will completely overwhelm our healthcare system,” Levine said.

She said the state currently has enough hospital beds, ICU beds, and ventilators "but we're watching that data very closely."

As of Sunday morning, 642 of the nearly 2,100 Pennsylvania residents hospitalized due to COVID-19 infections are on ventilators. Of the state's 4,913 ventilators, 1,475 are in use by both COVID and non-COVID patients, the state's hospital preparedness database shows.

Levine said plans are being discussed for a progressive, region-by-region opening, but “now is not the time" to consider implementation. "We have been successful in flattening the curve, but we still have significant new numbers of COVID-19 and we have to protect the public’s health and save lives," she said.

She said the state will consider an array of data in carrying out its reopening strategy, including the number of cases, the number of new cases, and the amount of cases per capita.

"When the measures go down in a progressive way," that is when a slow reopening can begin — "all the time watching for any type of outbreak."

>>>Full coverage of coronavirus in Pennsylvania

This article originally appeared on the Newtown Patch