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Coronavirus update: Don’t count on national stockpile, feds tell Pa.; Springfield Hospital closes all but ER

Springfield Hospital in Delaware County. (Google Maps)

Springfield Hospital in Delaware County. (Google Maps)

Updated 4:54 p.m.

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To date, the Pennsylvania Department of Health has reported 41,395 total COVID-19 cases (including confirmed and probable cases). There are 105,523 cases in New Jersey and 3,576 cases in Delaware. Philadelphia has 12,329 cases.

Pennsylvania’s death toll stands at 1,731, New Jersey’s is at 5,863, and Delaware’s is at 112. Philadelphia’s death toll is 466.

Note: The Pa. number of total deaths has gone down because the state is no longer including probable deaths in its count, only deaths that are confirmed to be coronavirus-related.

Feds tell Pa.: Don’t plan on more masks, gloves from national stockpile

The federal government has told Pennsylvania it should not plan on receiving more surgical masks, hospital gowns, and gloves from the national stockpile, which is “very, very low,” state Health Secretary Rachel Levine said Saturday.

“We are looking with the governor’s office really everywhere in the United States, even other places globally to try to find access to those resources,” Levine said during a virtual news conference. “We’re also going to rely on our excellent hospitals and health systems and the hospital association through their mutual aid agreement.”

More testing materials are also still needed, she said, including swabs and extraction and testing chemicals.

“It all has been a challenge in terms of that resource supply,” said Levine. “Overall I think we’re doing somewhat better in terms of that.”

“I do not expect at this time that any shortages will impact our ability to do testing in the regions that we identified that will go from red to yellow,” added Levine, referring to Pennsylvania’s plan to start easing shutdown orders in parts of the state starting May 8.

Gov. Tom Wolf’s plan would first relax restrictions in counties in north-central and northwest Pennsylvania.

The news came as the state eclipsed 40,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and reported 1,537 confirmed deaths.

There were 1,397 new cases reported on Saturday.

Springfield Hospital shuts down all but ER unit

Facing a “significant” drop in patients, Springfield Hospital in Delaware County is temporarily shutting down all its units except for its emergency department, according to the Delaware County Daily Times.

The decision, slated to be in place until at least June, will impact roughly 30 nurses currently assigned to other units. Hospital officials say a flex program will begin Monday that will do “everything possible to find alternative assignments” for those nurses.

Union officials are not pleased. In a statement, the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals said, “There is no reason for any nurse to lose their job during the pandemic. We believe all of these nurses, if they choose to, should be able to work at other Crozer hospitals during the temporary shutdown.”

Springfield Hospital is one of four hospitals that are part of the Crozer-Keystone Health System.

N.J. sees flattening of cases, but no decline yet

Gov. Phil Murphy said Saturday that the daily number of positive coronavirus tests in New Jersey continues to flatten, but has yet to decline.

“We cannot ease up one bit on our social distancing,” Murphy said during a news conference.  “We need to see more progress and more slowing before we can begin implementing any effort to get ourselves on the road to the new normal that awaits our state on the other side of this pandemic.”

On Saturday, New Jersey reported 3,457 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, bringing the statewide total to 105,523.

Bergen, Hudson, Essex, Union, Passaic, and Middlesex counties continue to report the highest numbers of positive cases.

Overall, state Health Commissioner Judith Perschichilli said, she expects to see new cases statewide through May.

The Garden State has now recorded 5,863 coronavirus-related deaths. A total of 249 were reported on Saturday.

The state’s death toll during the pandemic now eclipses the number of lives lost during World War I, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War combined, said Murphy.

On the positive side, hospitalizations have decreased every day since Thursday. And the number of COVID-19 patients in critical care has remained flat over the last week.

“We are winning this, but we are not out of the woods yet. We are not home,” said Murphy.

On Monday, state officials are expected to discuss the broad strokes of a plan to reopen New Jersey. A date for the start of that process has yet to be announced.

452 new cases in Philadelphia

Philadelphia’s Department of Public Health reported 452 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, bringing the city’s total to 12,329.

The Health  Department confirmed 17 additional fatalities. The city’s death toll now stands at 466. Of those who have died, 245 (53%) were residents of long-term care facilities.

Of the new cases, 14 are people in city correctional facilities who have tested positive. The current total of positive cases at correctional facilities is 69.

A total of 1,834 people have been hospitalized with COVID-19 in Philadelphia, Montgomery, Delaware, Bucks and Chester counties.

134 new positive cases in Delaware

Delaware’s Division of Public Health reported 134 new positive COVID-19 cases Saturday, bringing the state’s total to 3,576. The agency also announced 12 more virus-related deaths, bringing that total to 112.

More than 80% of the state’s death toll comes from New Castle and Sussex counties.

Residents at long-term care facilities account for more than 70% of the Delawareans who have died from the virus.

Food supply-chain workers eligible for Pa. priority testing

Certain workers who support Pennsylvania’s food supply chain are now eligible for priority COVID-19 testing at the Montgomery County mass testing site and the federally funded testing site at the Mohegan Sun casino in Luzerne County, the state announced Saturday.

The opportunity is being offered to farmers and seasonal laborers, as well as people who work at food processing facilities, warehouses and grocery stores in Montgomery County and parts of northeastern Pennsylvania, including Susquehanna, Wyoming, Luzerne, Carbon, Monroe, Pike, Wayne and Lackawanna counties.

“This priority has been given to workers up and down the supply chain — from farm to store — in Pennsylvania’s most at-risk counties for community spread,” state Agriculture Secretary Russelll Redding said in a statement. “It’s a step to further acknowledge the risk and sacrifice being made by these workers, and further ensure that food will be on the shelves at both our grocery stores and food banks, when Pennsylvanians go looking.”

Pennsylvania has deemed essential all agriculture and food supply chain jobs.

Philadelphia partners in $10M loan program

Goldman Sachs and Lendistry have partnered with the City of Philadelphia to provide loans to small businesses and nonprofits feeling the financial squeeze of the coronavirus pandemic.

The $10 million program will award loans to cover rent, payroll costs, utilities, and interest on mortgages. The loans will be partially or wholly forgiven if businesses maintain or rehire their workforces.

“I’m grateful that, thanks to this partnership, Philadelphia’s small-business owners will have more opportunities to secure vital funding needed to navigate this crisis and eventually rebound,” Mayor Jim Kenney said in a statement. “We thank our partners at Goldman Sachs and Lendistry, as well as those in Congress, for this investment in our small businesses, which are the backbone of our city’s economy.”

The announcement came as the federal government launched a second round of loans to businesses through its Paycheck Protection Program.

The program’s initial $349 billion budget dried up in less than two weeks. Congress authorized another $310 billion so more businesses can take advantage.

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