HARRISBURG – The state lab has identified Pennsylvania’s first two cases of coronavirus, affecting people in Delaware and Wayne counties, Gov. Tom Wolf announced Friday.
Both affected people have self-quarantined at home and are recovering, Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said. Both are believed to have come into contact with coronavirus while traveling, Levine said, but she declined to specify exactly where.
“Tests were done today. They are now being sent to the (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) for confirmation,” Levine said. “I haven’t heard of any tests that were positive in the states that weren’t confirmed by the CDC.”
State Sen. Michele Brooks, R-50, Jamestown, said Pennsylvania public health officials are performing tests and monitoring people who might be affected by coronavirus.
She asked that people who think they might be affected by the virus should call the state Health Department hotline at 877-724-3258.
“They’re being as aggressive as possible to identify if they had contact with other people and if they could have passed it on,’’ Brooks said.
“Those people will be tested.’’
The governor’s announcement comes the same day that five schools in the Central Bucks School District in southeastern Pennsylvania were closed because a group of students and staff members had attended a gathering also attended by an out-of-state resident diagnosed with coronavirus.
Levine said the school district’s move was done “out of an abundance of caution” and the exposure in that situation was not related to the two confirmed cases in Pennsylvania.
The announcement also comes just days after the state began doing its own testing for coronavirus, Levine said.
Until Monday, all samples to confirm coronavirus were sent to the CDC lab in Atlanta, she said.
The state lab can complete about 25 tests a day, Levine said. The state is expanding capacity and expects to be able to be complete more than 100 tests a day within the next few days, she said.
“We anticipated this very scenario and have been preparing for Pennsylvanians to become impacted by this virus,” Wolf said. “This is not the first rapidly-spreading virus we have faced in our commonwealth and it will not be the last. We are prepared to mitigate the spread of this virus.”
To date, there are nearly 100,000 cases worldwide, including more than 3,300 deaths. There are 233 cases and 14 deaths to date in the United States.
The CDC expects cases to continue to be confirmed in the upcoming days and weeks but wants everyone to take action to help prevent the spread of the virus. CDC also said due to the rapidly changing nature of the spread of COVID-19 around the world, it is important for families to be prepared.
“Further spread of this virus throughout the nation will likely occur,” Levine said.
“We encourage people to prepare for potential life disruptions.”