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DOH, PEMA talk deploying Nat’l Guard to ManorCare-JS

JERSEY SHORE — Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine and David “Randy” Padfield, the director of Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) addressed the possibility of deploying the National Guard to ManorCare-Jersey Shore during a press conference Friday evening.

Levine said the department of health have already been in contact with the facility for weeks.

The facility has been considered a hot spot for COVID-19, with 73 total residents testing positive for the virus over multiple weeks.

As of Wednesday, 53 residents still had the virus and were being treated in-house, according to Julie Beckert, assistant vice president at HCR ManorCare in Toledo, Ohio.

Another death was reported from the facility from Lycoming County Coroner Charles E. Kiessling Jr., increasing the total to 17.

Kiessling has reported 18 deaths related to the virus in the county, all of which came from personal care homes.

“We know that they have been challenged and we have been working with them for weeks now,” Levine said. “We have had specific consultations and guidance and have been working with that staff really everyday to try and help residents and staff.”

Padfield didn’t answer whether the National Guard would be deployed to help the facility, but said the state is taking a “tiered response” to offer assistance.

“We really start with a contact with that home to be able to see what their needs happen to be and then their are a number of issues or things that we’ll be able to do to address the staffing needs,” he said.

“Usually when we exhaust all of those other methods to deal with staffing then we’ll take a look at sending the National Guard in,” he continued.

Padfield said the National Guard, in terms of direct medical personnel, are limited.

“FEMA is actually providing us with additional support through the U.S. Public Health service and Human Services to provide additional medic personnel to build capacity and to be able to support those nursing homes,” he said.

The outbreak at ManorCare-JS has caused concern from families whose loved ones are living at the facility, and who have contacted the Department of Health and state legislators asking them to look into the high numbers and lack of information forthcoming to family members of those infected with the virus.

State Rep. Garth Everett has sent emails several times to the DOH, asking for information. Correspondence he sent earlier this week to Levine on Tuesday demanded answers immediately.

Everett said Wednesday he received a “non-response” from DOH to his Tuesday email, saying the DOH is aware of the situation at ManorCare and offering a call from Everett to discuss his concerns. The email was from Dave Toth, legislative director of DOH.

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