Gov. Wolf and Sec. Levine respond to News Talk 104.1 on Thursday

During a Thursday afternoon press conference, Governor Tom Wolf answered questions posed by News Talk 104.1, his responses are available by clicking the audio links.


Question: Governor Wolf, it’s our understanding that all non-emergency construction has ceased, will there be consideration for job sites of less than 10 workers going forward?


Question: Governor Wolf, are there counties that are being considered for stay at home orders due to community spread?


Governor Wolf in his prepared remarks offered comment about “the long haul” and “fighting a war.”


Secretary of Health, Dr. Rachel Levine offered the following update after the noon release of the confirmed COVID-19 cases to date in Pennsylvania.

560 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 1,687 in 48 counties as reported from commercial, hospital and state labs.

All people are either in isolation at home or being treated at the hospital.

Of the active COVID-19 cases:

46% are age 50 or older

39% are ages 25-49


Since March 6, 2020:

170 patients have been hospitalized an increase of 50 patients from yesterday.

56 (ICU) Intensive Care Unit patients an increase of 18 patients from yesterday

32 Ventilator patients an increase of 14 patients from yesterday


16,441 patients have tested negative for COVID-19.

5 new deaths reported today, bringing the statewide death total to 16 all are adults.

68% of the dead are 65 years of age or older.


COVID-19 County-specific information and a statewide map are available here.

Local counties as noted below that have at least one positive COVID-19 case confirmed.

  • Lycoming County – 1
  • Potter County – 1
  • Bradford County – 2
  • Columbia County – 3
  • Montour County – 3

Neighboring counties of Clinton, Northumberland, Sullivan and Tioga County have remained confirmed case free to this point.

These four counties are part of 19 remaining in Pennsylvania that do not have a positive COVID-19 case confirmed at this writing.

News Talk 104.1 posed by additional questions to both Governor Wolf and Secretary Levine some of which were addressed in the press conference.

Those questions that require written responses will be updated in this story as they become available.


UPDATE: 3:16 P.M., Thursday, March 26, 2020

Question: Sec. Levine, can you clarify a COVID-19 vaccine compared to current treatment?

Currently there is no treatment for COVID-19, other than supportive treatment. Other than experimental treatments, such as chloroquine that are still be determined as to their effectiveness, there is no treatment. The work for a vaccine will be extremely beneficial, but it will be months, if not a year until that is ready to be used.


Question: Sec. Levine, is a best practice for those (example family of 4) staying at home to practice social distancing (different rooms)?

In many of the cases across the state, if one individual has tested positive in a household, it is likely more most in the household will test positive, unless there are significant measures taken to prevent contracting the disease. It is best to practice social distancing as much as possible, but that is somewhat difficult.


Question: Sec. Levine, how many of the ICU or Ventilator cases outside of the stay at home counties?

We do not have a data breakdown on the number of ICU or ventilator cases that fall outside of the stay-at-home counties at this time.


Question: Did the number of positives spike due to the testing results from a week ago being reported or are these numbers based on more recent tests?

The question about increased cases and increased testing is an interesting one. We know that testing has increased, and we appreciate the fact that commercial labs and academic clinical labs has assisted in this. However, we also know that even with expanded testing, if the virus is not circulating you won’t have more positive cases coming back. So we feel it is a combination of both.


Question: Sec. Levine, can you clarify where the test numbers are coming from and of there any agencies testing that are not reflected in the total, and when those numbers may be included going forward?

Test results are coming back from several commercial labs, including Quest, LabCorp, ARUP, Mayo, as well as a number of clinical academic labs. We also have our public health lab that is providing test results to the department. Positive test results are being reported to the department by all of this as they are received by the laboratories.

Question: On the capacity issue, has PASSHE been contacted about converting college dorms into hospital style rooms? Or other large facilities in the state to help with a potential surge?

We are working through a number of options to prepare to care for individuals should our hospitals be overwhelmed. These discussions are continuing to occur as we plan for a potential surge that could overtop our health care capacity. One step we are discussing is to work with ambulatory surgical facilities on allowing them to take some less serious patients from hospitals.


The next Pennsylvania Department of Health briefing is slated for Friday with a time to be announced.