Montour County has one of Pennsylvania's 103 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, the first case confirmed in a Valley resident having the novel coronavirus spreading throughout the world.
There is no identifying information being released about the patient, including age or gender. The confirmation only means the patient is a resident of the county, the state Department of Health said. Geisinger spokesman Joe Stender on Saturday referred questions regarding the patient to state health officials.
“All we can provide is that the individual is from Montour County and is in isolation,” said Brittany Lauffer, public information officer at the state Department of Health, in an email on Saturday afternoon.
"The virus is here," Montour County Commissioner Chairman Ken Holdren. “Everyone needs to take these seriously. We need to stop the growth of this right now."
The 103 new cases Saturday is a 38 percent jump in one day, pushing the state total to 371 across 28 counties. All people are either in isolation at home or being treated at the hospital. A second death was also confirmed in Pennsylvania, in Alleghany County.
There are 3,766 patients who have tested negative, state health officials said. With commercial labs being the primary testing option for most Pennsylvanians, data is not available on the total number of tests pending.
“Our notable increase in cases over the last few days indicate we need everyone to take COVID-19 seriously,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “Pennsylvanians have a very important job right now: stay calm, stay home and stay safe. We have seen case counts continue to increase and the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to stay home.”
Montour County's case is the first in the Valley. No additional information has been released regarding the local confirmation. Earlier this week, Geisinger said it has tested three people. None of those three cases were local residents. The confirmed cases are based on where the individual tested lives, not where the tests were done.
Holdren said Montour County officials have been in constant contact with neighboring counties and health care professionals.
“We have been engaged and monitoring this hourly,” he said. “We continue to have conference calls with our regional counties and planning. This is just confirmation of what we know."
Montour County officials closed the courthouse and county offices to the public until further notice on Friday, an extension of measures taken earlier in the week.
Also on Saturday, commissioners from Columbia, Montour, Northumberland, Snyder and Union counties sent out a joint press release regarding the virus spreading. All 15 commissioners signed the letter encouraging Valley residents to stay informed "as we advance this through this COVID-19 virus pandemic. We recognize the importance of having all of us working together to defeat the threat of this virus affecting our citizens.
"This pandemic is like no other we've ever faced before. We want to encourage you to follow the guidelines put forth by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and the PA Dept. of Health. Our responsibility as county commissioners is to safeguard the public's safety to the extent of our ability. We value every one of you and we want you to be safe. Stay home if you are not required to be at work; limit your travel so we can flatten the curve of COVID-19. This will support our local hospitals, friends, and neighbors. We thank you for your patience and your cooperation during this national disaster."
Among the cases across the state as of noon today: Adams (4), Allegheny (31, 1 death), Beaver (3), Berks (7), Bucks (24), Butler (1), Centre (1), Chester (19), Cumberland (11), Delaware (33), Erie (1), Franklin (1), Lackawanna (5), Lancaster (4), Lebanon (2), Lehigh (13), Luzerne (6), Monroe (25), Montgomery (71), Montour (1), Northampton (17, 1 death), Philadelphia (69), Pike (2), Potter (1), Washington (5), Wayne (1), Westmoreland (4), York (9).
This is a developing story. More details will be posted when they become available.