PITTSBURGH — Pennsylvania has more than 2,200 cases of the novel coronavirus and 22 people have died. Keep checking back for the latest COVID-19 updates throughout the day.
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UPDATE 8:50 p.m.: Two clergy teams are in self-quarantine and two priests in the Diocese of Pittsburgh are in isolation after exposure to someone who tested positive for the coronavirus on March 27, according to church officials.
The two priests -- Father Adam Potter (Greenfield, Hazelwood, Oakland, Oakland Catholic High School) and Father Thomas Gramc (Dormont, Mt. Lebanon, Scott Township, Seton La Salle High School) -- have shown “mild symptoms” of COVID-19 and are being tested for the virus.
Both high schools where they appear have been closed since March 13. Neither priest has had any contact with students or faculty since then, officials said.
Because of those priests showing symptoms, the diocese has instructed two “clergy teams” who work at the same churches as the priests to self-quarantine.
Below were the listed churches:
- Saint Paul Cathedral - Oakland, St. Regis - Oakland, St. Rosalia - Greenfield, St. Stephen - Hazelwood, Saint Bernard - Mount Lebanon, Our Lady of Grace - Scott Township
Out of caution and concern that these situations could be replicated in other parishes, officials said Bishop David Zubik has issued the following modifications to the Diocese of Pittsburgh’s coronavirus response policies:
- While livestream celebrations of Masses from each of those affected parish groupings will cease effective immediately and until further notice, livestream Masses and worship services from the diocese and other parishes will continue.
- All opportunities for the Sacrament of Reconciliation in churches or church parking lots are immediately suspended at all parishes in the Diocese of Pittsburgh.
- All church buildings in the Diocese of Pittsburgh are to be locked until further notice, due to the fact that we are told that the virus can live on surfaces for an extended period of time.
- All Funeral Masses or services in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, inclusive of those at funeral homes, are immediately cancelled until further notice. Direct burials of the deceased should be celebrated with memorial Masses to occur at a later time.
- All Baptism ceremonies in the Diocese of Pittsburgh are suspended immediately and until further notice. In cases of emergency (in danger of death), people should contact their priest for guidance.
- All Wedding ceremonies in the Diocese of Pittsburgh are suspended immediately and until further notice. Parishes will be working directly with all couples who have scheduled weddings.
- The Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick may occur only in the case of immediate danger of death.
UPDATE 8:30 p.m.: Fifteen residents at the Brighton Rehabilitation and Wellness Center in Beaver County have tested positive for COVID-19, according to a release from the facility.
At the nursing home, officials said several other residents were tested but were negative for coronavirus.
The facility had its first days a few days ago, and within 48 hours, there are now 15 positive cases. Five of those residents are at Heritage Valley Hospital because they were having significant symptoms and respiratory problems.
Below is a statement from the facility regarding these new positive cases:
"To combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus, we have been and are continuing to monitor all residents for symptoms of the virus and are continuing to screen our staff members on a regular basis. Weeks ago, we suspended in-person visitation with our residents and restricted access to the building for non-essential personnel. This practice will continue. Likewise, we limited the entrance and exit options for all essential personnel to a single location, and at the entrance, all employees are monitored for their temperature, signs and symptoms, that may indicate any potential symptoms of COVID-19. When, and if, an employee shows symptoms that could potentially be consistent with a COVID-19 infection, the employee is mandated to return home until a physician approves return to work. We likewise continue to enforce other sterilization and infectious control procedures.
We are utilizing telemedicine and video communication options between our health care professionals and our residents to further help reduce exposure to our residents, while maintaining a high level of medical care. Affected residents are being seen by a treating physician on a daily basis."
UPDATE 4 p.m.: A Pittsburgh Public Schools employee has tested positive for COVID-19.
The Brookline staff member was exposed outside of the school, according to a release, but was at the building during the first week of the closure.
Pittsburgh Brookline stopped serving Grab and Go meals there on March 18 because of a separate potential exposure.
UPDATE 3:10 p.m.: Gov. Tom Wolf received USDA approval for COVID-19 disaster food distribution Saturday, meaning more food is allowed to be distributed at hundreds of locations across Pennsylvania.
The Wolf administration will operate a Disaster Household Distribution program through The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP).
“Hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians have applied for unemployment compensation after just two weeks of COVID-19 mitigation efforts. I’m incredibly grateful for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s acknowledgement of our need to feed Pennsylvania,” Wolf said. “This waiver lifts a weight off the shoulders of our food banks and families across the commonwealth.”
According to a release, this order will also temporarily waive the need to verify household eligibility.
The approval allows the department and its partners to more efficiently distribute a variety of foods – including meats, vegetables, fruit, canned goods, cereal, rice, pasta, eggs, and more – to those most affected by the closure of non-life sustaining businesses in Pennsylvania.
UPDATE 1:33 p.m.: Here is the latest county-by-county breakdown of coronavirus numbers from the state:
- Allegheny County: 219 positive, 2 deaths
- Butler County: 41 positive, 2 deaths
- Mercer County: 6 positive
- Lawrence: 8 positive
- Beaver County: 22 positive
- Washington County: 23 positive
- Greene County: 6 positive
- Fayette County: 10 positive
- Westmoreland County: 41 positive
- Armstrong County: 2 positive
- Indiana County: 2 positive
UPDATE 1:21 p.m.: State officials announced they are working to streamline the process for retired doctors, medical students, pharmacists and other healthcare workers to increase the ranks of those in hospitals to help care for infected patients.
The Department of State has announced a series of temporary licensing waivers for health care professionals and others during the COVID-19 disaster declaration. The waivers reduce administrative barriers to support the health care system and carry out their health care work with unnecessary burdens.
The temporary license waivers for health care workers include:
Health Care Professionals:
- Streamlining the reactivation of licenses for retired Medical Doctors, Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine, Physician Assistants, Respiratory Therapists, Perfusionists, Registered Nurses, Clinical Nurse Specialists, Certified Registered Nurse Practitioners and Pharmacists to return to their field, and 119 applications have been received in the past three weeks.
- Allowing licensed health care practitioners to provide services via telemedicine.
- Allowing doctors with institutional licenses to practice at more than 2 facilities.
- Encouraged the use of telemedicine access for opioid use disorder Centers of Excellence patients.
- Allowing more than 14,000 Certified Registered Nurse Practitioners to assist in the COVID-19 response by lifting the requirement that they practice within a specialty.
- Extending license deadlines, temporary nursing permits and graduate permits.
- Allowing certain nursing school graduates to apply for an immediate graduate permit.
- Allowing out-of-state pharmacies to ship goods to Pennsylvania.
- Allowing temporary expedited licensure for certain pharmacy practitioners and pharmacies.
UPDATE 12:31 p.m.: Gov. Tom Wolf’s office confirmed his agency is expanding the stay at home order. The expansion adds Beaver and Washington counties locally.
In western PA, the counties under stay at home orders include:
Additionally, there have been 97 patients who have required care in an intensive care unit. Of those, 56 people have needed ventilators.
UPDATE 12:17 p.m.: Superintendent of Pittsburgh Public Schools Dr. Anthony Hamlet said the district had distributed over 18,000 meals to kids throughout the city over the last week.
UPDATE 12:03 p.m.: New numbers from the PA Department of Health show there are 533 new positive cases across the state for a total of 2,751 patients across 56 counties. There have also been 12 new deaths attributed to coronavirus.
There have been 25,254 people who tested negative. The majority of patients requiring hospitalization are between the ages of 25-49 and that age group makes up 39% of call cases statewide.
Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said the best thing people can do is simply stay home.
This marks the third straight day of over 500 confirmed new cases of coronavirus in the state.
UPDATE 11:20 a.m.: Beaver and Washington counties will reportedly be added to the Governor’s stay-at-home order.
UPDATE 11:00 a.m.: The Allegheny County Health Department released the latest numbers related to the coronavirus outbreak.
There have been 219 positive tests, 31 people hospitalized and two deaths related to the outbreak.
Here is a breakdown of the cases by age group:
- 0-4: <1%
- 5-12: <1%
- 13-18: 2%
- 19-24: 11%
- 25-49: 46%
- 50-64: 26%
- 65+: 14%
The number of positive cases by gender are nearly even with 110 women and 109 men.
UPDATE 10:53 a.m.: Officials with Community College of Beaver County announced they’ve gathered all available medical supplies from nursing, phlebotomy, biology, EMT and other programs to donate to the Heritage Valley Health System and Medic Rescue. CCBC officials said the donation amounts to roughly $4,000 of supplies.
UPDATE 7:18 a.m.: There have been two COVID-19-related deaths at Butler Memorial Hospital. And for the residents of Butler County there is now a stay-at-home order that started just hours ago.
Kevin Boozel, a Butler County Commissioner, told Channel 11 residents were already supposed to be following these guidelines. The difference now is the state is going to enforce it.
“The state police would have the authority to question where you’re heading and why you’re heading there,” said Boozel.
Government officials had already taken steps to prevent the spread of coronavirus, even shutting down local parks.
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