Rock the Capital plans to implement COVID-19 coverage with national, state, and local updates.
A local company provided a good primer on SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19. Read it here for more information preventative measures, and on the virus in general.
COVID-19: Pennsylvania at a Glance
As of March 18th, 2020 we have 133 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Pennsylvania. Among these, Northampton reports our only fatality from COVID-19.
COVID-19 Coverage: The Harrisburg Area
The Harrisburg area reports sixteen (16) confirmed cases, distributed as follows.
We expect the number of reported cases to increase for multiple reasons. First, viruses spread. Second, increased testing naturally leads to an increased number of confirmed positives. However, we urge you to remember the good news: this also leads to confirmed negatives.
Initially, Governor Wolf has started ordering closing of all dine-in restaurants, encouraging a switch to delivery. He also recommended that all Pennsylvanians stay home for at least fourteen (14) days. Further recommendations included closure of all non-essential businesses. Additionally, Governor Wolf joined the tri-county task force with New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. This task force focuses on coordinated efforts to mitigate the explosion of the virus among the states due to the large amount of interstate travel among them. The areas of the most concern in Pennsylvania include Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, and the immediate areas around those population centers. Not only does this relate to the higher number of confirmed cases, but also the high population density and amount of travel to and from those areas.
Leaders hope that these early mitigation steps significantly slow the spread of SARS-CoV-2, so that the increased number of cases does not overwhelm the healthcare system. As the virus continues to spread, more options will be considered. First, social distancing tactics will be improved. Second, healthcare capacity expansion plans will be implemented.
Additional social distancing measures might include closure of the border between states. Other options include mandated shelter-in-place orders in major cities, similar to those in San Francisco. On the effort to increase healthcare capacity there will be ideas to reopen old hospitals, remake dorm rooms into additional hospital capacity, and even have the army core of engineers build additional hospital capacity. Overall this crisis will get worse before it gets better. The question remains, can we bend the curve enough to decrease the new case rate, and can we expand the healthcare system swiftly enough?