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Coronavirus

Pennsylvania announces first ‘presumed positive’ cases of coronavirus

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Gov. Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Rachel Levine brief the media on two presumed cases of the new coronavirus, COVID-19.
Commonwealth Media Services

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Update, March 9: The number of presumed positive cases in Pennsylvania has risen to six, with four reported in Montgomery County.

There are two “presumed positive” cases of the new coronavirus in Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Wolf announced Friday.

Wolf has signed an emergency disaster declaration “to provide increased support to state agencies involved in the response,” according to a statement.

“It’s imperative that we continue to respond quickly and accurately to the coronavirus and its introduction into Pennsylvania,” Wolf said.

The cases of COVID-19, in Delaware County and Wayne County, still need to be confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The affected people, who are adults, have been quarantined in their homes.

“I want to emphasize we all should remain calm here,” Wolf told reporters Friday. “I can assure you that our state government will continue to function smoothly as we respond to this public health issue.”

Rachel Levine, secretary of the state Department of Health, said the cases were not transmitted in the community, but were from travel. One affected adult had been in Europe, while the other “recently traveled to an area of the United States where COVID-19 is present.”

Officials announced earlier in the week that the state lab in Exton is now testing COVID-19 samples. As of Friday, the lab can handle between 20 and 25 samples a day. By the weekend, the lab will be able to do 125 to 150 assessments a day, according to Levine.

“We are prepared,” Levine said, later adding there is no testing backlog.

Under the emergency declaration, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency has been authorized to assume all statewide emergency operations, direct agencies, and use all available resources and personnel “as is deemed necessary to cope with this emergency situation,” Wolf said in a statement.

While five schools in Bucks County were closed Friday after students and staff attended an event with a person diagnosed with COVID-19, Levine said “there are no confirmed cases” in the county.

Levine said Pennsylvanians should wash their hands for at least 20 seconds, not touch their faces, clean surfaces, and stay home if sick to protect themselves from the virus. Symptoms of COVID-19 can include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

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