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Worst is yet to come as Pa. braces for coronavirus surge

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The Investigator

Your guide to the Capitol & stories holding the powerful to account

March 26, 2020 | spotlightpa.org

We're getting a clearer picture of the severe economic damage being inflicted across the state by efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus, which so far shows no signs of letting up. Unemployment claims are shattering all records, while the state is bracing for a gut punch to the budget.

As the situation worsens, major efforts are underway to increase hospital bed capacity and write guidelines to prioritize patients. Meanwhile, medical professionals are demanding more protection as state lawmakers approved $50 million for supplies. It's unclear how soon they might arrive.

The latest numbers suggest the situation in Pennsylvania is going to get significantly worse, and it's important to stay safe and calm. If you need help, you can call the national Disaster Distress Helpline for immediate counseling at 1-800-985-5990 or text the Crisis Text Line by sending "PA" to 741741. You can reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Through it all, our team of reporters will be working nonstop to keep you informed about how the state's responding. We depend on your support, so please consider making a donation now.

If you have a story we should pursue, don't hesitate to reach out to us.

Christopher Baxter, Spotlight PA

"I prefer not to be infected by the coronavirus."

— State Rep. Chris Rabb, a Philadelphia Democrat, criticizing about 70 House lawmakers who gathered in close quarters in the Capitol despite remote voting
Because of limited testing and asymptomatic patients, experts believe the virus is far more widespread than case counts suggest. Nonetheless, the statistics are a consistent indicator of the state's trend, which is increasing exponentially.


Map of coronavirus cases by county
As of 12 p.m. March 26
 SPOTLIGHT PA: More than half of confirmed Pa. coronavirus patients are under 50
» SPOTLIGHT PA: Latinx groups slam Wolf administration for lack of Spanish briefings
» SPOTLIGHT PA: Gov. Tom Wolf's emergency powers withstand challenges — for now
» SPOTLIGHT PA: Quarantines at drug treatment centers pose risk, but options dwindle
» WHYY: With coronavirus, air pollution may put marginalized communities at risk
» POST-GAZETTE: Pa. child care centers at 'breaking point' due to mandated closures
» CAPITAL-STAR: Pa. human services workers say they aren't prepared for coronavirus

 INQUIRER: The Greater Philadelphia YMCA lays off 4,000, most of its workforce
» INQUIRER: Drexel University works to supply needed masks and respirators

 MORNING CALL: Coronavirus already taking economic toll in the Lehigh Valley
» MORNING CALL: Bus companies shut down, leaving commuters with limited options

 TIMES-TRIBUNE: Poconos residents worry NYers may bring virus to vacation homes
» TIMES-TRIBUNE: Grocery store throws out $35K in products after coughing "prank"

 PENNLIVE: Harrisburg bringing in sinks to keep parks open
» PENNLIVE: Stay off the Appalachian Trail during coronavirus, trail organizers say

 POST-GAZETTE: Pittsburgh sanitation workers refusing to pick up trash without gear
» POST-GAZETTE: Woman who died of coronavirus feared she couldn't pay hospital bills
» PUBLICSOURCE: Homeless may end up at hotel near Pittsburgh airport

 ERIE TIMES-NEWS: County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper issues stay-at-home order
» ERIE TIMES-NEWS: Medical center in Crawford County furloughs more than 200

 OBSERVER-REPORTER: Dairy truckers say business is booming, others take a hit
» OBSERVER-REPORTERWashington Health System won't disclose open bed number

Send your answers to newsletters@spotlightpa.org.

Hidden apple (Case No. 31): A family of seven is staying at home to stay safe. They stand in an empty square room where everyone can see everyone else. If no one moves, where can you put an apple so all but one person can see it?
Stumped? Get a hint. Feeling smart? Challenge a friend.

Last week's answer: Zero. The first number with an "A" is one thousand.

Congrats to Jeff W., who will receive Spotlight PA swag (when we reopen our office!). Others who correctly answered: Kathy W., Kenneth J., Lois P., Deborah D., Joyce R., George S., Marian S., Don H., Jon N., Robert K., Lisa M., Debbie T., Jeffrey F., Drew C., Jim S., Lou R., and K. Sauter.
» This week's Riddler hint: No hint this week.
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