City residents wait in a line extending around the block to receive free at-home rapid COVID-19 test kits in Philadelphia, Monday, Dec. 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke) Waiting for COVID Test Kits in Philadelphia
City residents wait in a line extending around the block to receive free at-home rapid COVID-19 test kits in Philadelphia, Monday, Dec. 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Three federal “strike teams” will arrive early next week.

HARRISBURG — Hospitals and emergency medical services based in Scranton and York will be the first to receive help from federal teams to deal with the latest COVID-19 surge, Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration said Wednesday.

Three federal “strike teams” will arrive at the Scranton Regional Hospital and WellSpan York early next week and open about 30 additional acute care hospital beds for 30 days, the Wolf administration said in a statement.

On top of that, emergency medical teams will go to York and Scranton, although the exact number of health care workers to be deployed is still being determined, the administration said.

Hospitals and nursing homes statewide have been sounding the alarm in recent weeks as largely unvaccinated COVID-19 patients fill hospital beds. That has sent some acute-care facilities over capacity, jammed some emergency rooms, and forced nursing homes to stop accepting new residents.

Wolf’s administration continues to urge Pennsylvanians to get vaccinated against COVID-19, saying vaccinated people are far less likely to be hospitalized if they contract the disease.

The administration asked the federal government for help on Dec. 15, seeking health care workers to help at hospitals, skilled nursing facilities and ambulance companies in the hardest-hit areas of the state.

Pennsylvania also asked FEMA for 1 million rapid at-home coronavirus tests and for an increase in the state’s allocation of monoclonal antibody treatments.

Pennsylvania is reporting an average of almost 9,000 new, confirmed infections per day over the last two weeks, up 50% since the second half of November. The number of COVID-19 patients requiring hospital care has increased by 80% since last month, at more than 4,500 per day.