Gov. Wolf, Secretary Levine Considering Additional Mitigation Efforts as Virus Surge Raises Concerns

HARRISBURG, Pa. (EYT) – During a press conference on Monday afternoon, Governor Wolf reported he and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine are currently considering additional mitigation efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Gov. Wolf opened the press conference by noting that two weeks ago, officials warned the public about the potential for a major surge in COVID-19 cases that could overwhelm hospitals and healthcare systems across the state.

He noted that since then, the situation in Pennsylvania has become “even more dire,” with many hospitals reporting crowded conditions and dwindling resources, as well as overworked and exhausted staff.

According to Wolf, although health care systems are collaborating regionally to share resources, the situation will become more difficult if cases continue to increase.

“If we don’t slow the spread of this dangerous virus now, if we don’t do this, the reality is that COVID-19 will overwhelm our hospitals, will overwhelm our healthcare systems,” Gov. Wolf said.

Dr. Levine noted that staffing shortages, in particular, have become a concern in some regions of the state, particularly in southwestern Pennsylvania, and Gov. Wolf went on to state that the growing demand for emergency care could affect more than just COVID patients.

“If that happens (hospitals are overwhelmed), it will affect everyone who needs emergency care — and again, not just the COVID patients. It will affect all aspects of emergency care and all aspects of our healthcare systems’ ability to respond,” Wolf said.

He went on to state that it has become “increasingly likely” that some hospitals won’t be able to treat all of the people who go there for treatment, which could lead to additional deaths as patients in need of emergency care may have to be diverted to more distant hospitals.

When questioned about the possibility of additional restrictions and mitigation efforts, Wolf initially stated that decisions would be made “soon,” then later noted he expected to “have something to share” in the next few days.

“We are looking at all sorts of issues right now, and very shortly we’ll come back with more recommendations,” Wolf said.

However, when asked specifically about the possibility of a shutdown or going back to the “red, yellow, green” system of the earlier days of the pandemic, Wolf said he had no intention of utilizing that particular set of mitigation tools again, calling it a “blunt instrument” that was only needed to buy the initial time for doctors to develop a better understanding of the virus.

“Whatever we do at the state (level) has to be accompanied by the recognition that we all share a responsibility to make this work,” Wolf noted as both he and Levine urged repeatedly that Pennsylvanians continue to social distance, avoid gatherings, and wear masks.

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