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Pa. curve is flattening

Dr. Levine: ‘We cannot become complacent’

Gov. Tom Wolf

By David Wenner

dwenner@pennlive.com

HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania’s growth rate for new coronavirus cases has been falling for a week, although state officials on Wednesday warned “we cannot become complacent.”

“We have a subtle flattening of the curve, which is good news,” state Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said, adding it reflects success of social distancing and closed schools and non-essential businesses.

Still, Levine along with Gov. Tom Wolf expressed continuing worry of hospitals eventually running short on capacity to care for all the people sick with COVID-19, and urged Pennsylvanians not to let up on their efforts to prevent further spread of the infection.

Dr. Rachel Levine

That worry was evidenced by Wolf signing an executive order on Wednesday giving the state authority to shift supplies such as ventilators and face masks to areas and hospitals which have the most need.

Wolf said the benefits will include preventing people from having to worry their local hospital might not be able to care for them, and getting supplies to COVID-19 hotspots and hospitals that are short on supplies.

Pennsylvania reported 1,680 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday. Levine said about 1,892 are presently hospitalized. She said about 51% of hospital beds, 40% percent of intensive care beds and 70% of the supply of ventilators remain available.

Even with news cases slowing overall, Levine said there’s still concern about continuing fast growth in some areas, including the Philadelphia region, Monroe County, the Lehigh Valley and Luzerne County.

Federal officials are also citing Philadelphia as an emerging national hotspot. One benefit, Wolf said, is that Pennsylvania becomes a higher priority for receiving federal help.

Meanwhile, one of the most well-watched models, from the University of Washington, is looking better for Pennsylvania.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the model was predicting Pennsylvania will reach peak hospital usage in 5 days on April 13. At that point, a total of 2,180 regular and intensive care beds will be needed, well below the available supply of 14,395, according to the model.

Below the graph are daily breakdowns of some of the most pertinent numbers as of Wednesday. The growth factor is calculated by dividing each day’s new cases by the new cases on the previous day. A growth factor of more than 1 suggests exponential growth of cases, with a growth factor of less than 1 can indicate the rate of new cases is slowing.

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