HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania’s Director of COVID-19 Tracing and Testing says public health policies are only as effective as the public’s willingness to carry them out while talking about plans to help slow the spread of the virus.
At a news conference Wednesday, Michael Huff said Pennsylvania residents have a responsibility to follow the public guidelines to fight COVID-19.
“The COVID-19 situation is fluid and guidance continues to change over time,” Huff said.
Huff said if communities are unable to isolate patients who test positive and if people will not separate themselves from others who are not infected, strict measures will be needed to contain the virus. He said officials are prioritizing case investigations to those who are the most vulnerable and to those who could spread the virus to the most people.
“Time is of the essence,” he said.
Huff said people are only contacted if it is believed that they have come into contact with someone who tested positive for coronavirus. He said they are told to self-isolate and monitor their symptoms for 14 days. If symptoms do occur, Huff said people should immediately self-isolate and contact health officials.
Over 5 million tests, or about 40% of the state’s population, have already been administered for the virus, according to Huff. He said it is a challenge to reach out to everyone who has tested positive.
“The COVID-19 pandemic will continue to evolve rapidly,” he said.
Huff said as the cases rapidly surge, it puts a huge demand on the state’s ability to conduct contact tracing. He said as cases increase, the prioritization of cases is needed. He said the state is working on ramping up its ability to carry out tracing.
Huff said the federal government has shipped 50 million rapid antigen tests to nursing facilities, historically Black colleges and universities, health care and hospice organizations and other services. He said out of 100 million remaining tests, Pennsylvania will receive an additional 3.8 million through the end of December.
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