Levine Says New COVID Cases are Straining Hospitals and ICUs Already

Dr. Rachel Levine

State Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine speaks during a news conference on Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. (Screenshot)

By Patrick Abdalla

November 30, 2020

“We’re very concerned about the hospital capacity,” state Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said Monday.

The recent explosion of coronavirus cases is putting pressure on hospitals and intensive care units, Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said on Monday.

At a news conference, Levine reported 914 people were in intensive care units in the state and 465 of those were on ventilators. More than 4,400 are hospitalized, which is a nearly 50% increase over the spring high of around 3,000.

“I think intensive care units, and hospitals in general, are strained,” she said. “I think they’re strained throughout the state. … We’re very concerned about the hospital capacity.”

Levine said that strain is reflective of the widespread reach of the pandemic across the state.

Health officials are concerned that holiday travel and lax behavior could lead to even more increases in December.

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“In public health, we are very concerned about the public impact,” Levine said about the holidays. “Unfortunately, the airports were often quite crowded.”

Only Forest County has a positivity rate below 5%. Five counties—Bedford, Juniata, Mifflin, Somerset, Tioga—have positivity rates above 20%. Statewide, the rate is just below 12%.

November saw the first days in which the state reported at least 3,000 cases. The state then proceeded to break records, and reach more than 7,000 new cases in one day.

Pennsylvania reported more than 500 coronavirus-related deaths last week, Levine said That’s more people in one 7-day period than in each entire month of July, August, or September this year. Only April and May during the spring surge saw more deaths in a month than November. 

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Levine also talked about how Pennsylvania is seeing new trends in who gets infected and who dies from the virus.

While the spring saw many deaths occurring in critical care facilities, that’s not the case now, she said.

“The percentage is less,” she said. “We are seeing more deaths outside of long-term care facilities than we saw in the spring.”

Levine said that of the 28,000 children between 5 and 18 who have gotten the virus, 8,000 cases were reported in the last two weeks.


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