This morning the Pennsylvania Department of Health announced two presumptive positive cases of 2019 Novel Coronavirus in Bucks County and an additional presumptive positive in Montgomery County. That brings the total number of cases in Pennsylvania to 15, one of which is in Delaware County. The Delaware County case has been confirmed by the CDC. The Delaware County case was not community spread. The patient had recently traveled to an area where COVID-19 is present.
Today the World Health Organization declared 2019 Novel Coronavirus a pandemic, stating that the viral disease is now in at least 114 countries and has killed more than 4,000 people internationally.
Delaware County continues to be in daily contact with the Pennsylvania Department of Health for updates and guidance. The County first met in January to discuss planning and prevention and has been meeting daily to adjust and add procedures which best protect residents and County employees.
Currently, the Pennsylvania Department of Health and CDC are not advising that the general public avoid public gatherings in Delaware County; however, this is a rapidly changing situation, and these recommendations could change. The County is reminding residents to be prudent and use common sense in the same way you would to avoid germs and getting sick with any virus.
An important note for the elderly and people with severe underlying health conditions including heart disease, lung disease and diabetes who are at higher risk to develop more serious health effects of COVID-19: These at risk groups should exercise extra precautions, including avoiding public gatherings. More information about at risk groups can be found here: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/high-risk-complications.html
Several weeks ago the County began to prepare for the prevention of Coronavirus at George W. Hill Correctional Facility. Extra sanitation measures are being taken to protect inmates and staff. On March 10, the County’s Jail Oversight Board took further measures to ensure that inmates, who may be more vulnerable due to compromised immune systems, are protected as much as possible. As part of these measures, visitation to the prison will be temporarily restricted except for essential visitors including legal counsel and court evaluators. The visitation restriction policy will be reviewed weekly and adjusted as the rapidly evolving status of Coronavirus changes. During this time, inmates will have access to one free phone call a week.
The Elections Board and County Council are closely monitoring COVID -19 and researching and preparing for appropriate and safe locations for the polls. New details regarding COVID-19 are emerging daily and the County will be providing a more detailed plan as the Primary Election on April 28 becomes closer.
On March 9, the County met with superintendents from across the County to discuss a Continuity of a Countywide Pandemic Action Plan, to best guide our county schools. School districts developed a county-wide Pandemic Action Plan in conjunction with Delaware County Emergency Services, Delaware County Council, and the Delaware County Department of Intercommunity Health. This plan is a guide to various response levels and to ensure planning and messaging is uniform across the County. The response level will be determined in coordination with the Pennsylvania Department of Health and educational agencies. At this time, the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the CDC are not advising Delaware County schools to close. The decision to close a school remains to be dependent on guidance from the Pennsylvania Department of Health. The County has also been in communication with universities and colleges in the County. Many are offering students and staff alternate options to learn and work.
Governor Tom Wolf announced on March 11 that the state’s Medicaid program, Medical Assistance (MA) and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), will cover COVID-19 testing and treatment for recipients and is lifting some prior authorization requirements to ease access to necessary testing and treatment. There are no MA or CHIP copayments for laboratory tests for COVID-19. For those services that do have copayments, MA providers may not deny services if a beneficiary is unable to pay the copayment. The decision was made to ensure that anyone who needs to be tested for COVID-19 has access to testing.
Delaware County is reminding residents that currently, the best way to protect yourself is to take the same precautions you would to prevent the flu or common cold:
Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze with your elbow to avoid touching your face
Wash your hands often with soap and warm/hot water for at least 20 seconds
Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available
Clean surfaces frequently, including countertops, light switches, cell phones, remotes, and other frequently touched items
If you are feeling sick, stay home. Rest, take care of yourself and don’t spread the germs.
If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you are asked to call the Pennsylvania Department of Health at 1-877-PA-HEALTH.
The County has created a website dedicated to information on the Coronavirus, including prevention, resources and a FAQ section with a link to the Pennsylvania Department of Health and CDC. The website can be found here: www.delcopa.gov/ich/resources/coronavirus.html
Residents are encouraged to register for the DelcoAlert notification system which alerts residents of updates and emergencies. The website to register can be found here: www.delcopa.gov/delcoalert/delcoalert.html