Pennsylvania Commonwealth microbiologist Karen Zimmerman, prepares a master mix for PCR inside the extraction lab at the Pennsylvania Department of Health Bureau of Laboratories on Friday, March 6, 2020.
Coronavirus spreads in Pennsylvania, as cancellations grow
The Associated Press
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Pennsylvania confirmed more cases of the new coronavirus Tuesday, as more schools canceled classes, travel or events and the city of Philadelphia discouraged gatherings of more than 5,000 people, including professional sporting events and the St. Patrick’s Day parade.
The state Department of Health reported one more positive test for the virus in Montgomery County, while Philadelphia reported its first. That brings the statewide total to at least 12, amid growing reports of people contracting COVID-19 while in Pennsylvania.
A look at the latest developments in the spread of the new coronavirus in Pennsylvania:
What we know
The state Department of Health said all of the people who have tested positive in the state live in eastern Pennsylvania. Before Tuesday, the cases reported were people believed to have contracted it by traveling outside the state or country.
However, authorities said Tuesday that people have contracted the virus while inside Pennsylvania, and Montgomery County officials said the source of one person’s virus was still a mystery.
One case is an 18-year-old student at Germantown Academy in suburban Philadelphia who tested positive after one of her parents tested positive earlier this week, Montgomery County officials said.
Philadelphia officials also confirmed the city’s first case of COVID-19 on Tuesday. City officials are not encouraging school closures, but they are urging people not to attend events of more than 5,000 attendees, including professional sporting events and the city’s St. Patrick’s Day parade.
According to the state, eight people who tested positive are residents of Montgomery County, including one identified by Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia as a cardiologist working at a King of Prussia facility. At least three — including the cardiologist — were hospitalized Tuesday and the rest were at home in isolation, officials said.
Health Secretary Rachel Levine isn’t recommending that large gatherings be canceled.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.
The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.
What we don’t know
The Department of Health is giving few details about patients. It is not saying how many samples it is testing, how many negative tests it has taken or how many people it is monitoring under quarantine. It is also not saying where precisely someone traveled when they were exposed.
At least three medical personnel who treated people who tested positive have also been quarantined, newspapers have reported.
West Chester University and Bucknell University both announced Tuesday that they are suspending in-person instruction for the rest of the semester. At West Chester, courses will resume online March 30. Bucknell’s classes will resume online Thursday.
The 2020 Northeast Regional Science Olympiad at Penn State Wilkes-Barre, an annual event scheduled for Wednesday that draws more than 800 students in the region, was canceled.
The University of Pennsylvania is prohibiting all future university-related travel and curtailing large university events at least until April 17. Penn Medicine has prohibited all faculty, students and staff of both the Perelman School of Medicine and the University of Pennsylvania Health System — where at least one coronavirus patient is hospitalized — from participating in large gatherings.
Some large universities, including Penn State, are on spring break, although Penn State is requiring a 14-day quarantine period for students or employees returning from a country where COVID-19 is widespread before they return to campus. Bloomsburg University, meanwhile, said Tuesday it is extending spring break by one week, with classes to resume March 23.
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