COVID-19 Information + Updates
COVID Alert PA is the official mobile app by the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) that uses the Exposure Notification System (ENS) provided by Apple and Google. You can now add your phone to the fight against COVID-19 by going to the Google Play Store or Apple App Store and downloading the free COVID Alert PA app to your smartphone. The app runs on iPhones that support iOS 13.5 and higher, and Android phones running Android 6.0 and higher.
Community/Faith-Based Organizations PA COVID-19 Update Archive
LEHIGH VALLEY RESOURCES
If you are experiencing symptoms of the coronavirus please contact the emergency help lines provided by St. Luke's University Health Network and Lehigh Valley Health Network to be evaluated and provided guidance. These hotlines will be led by nurses who can provide information based on CDC guidelines.
Lehigh Valley Health Network - TESTING CENTER LOCATIONS/HOURS
Call Number: (888) 402-LVHN (5846)
St. Luke's University Health Network
Call Number: 1-(866)-STLUKES or (866)-785-8537
Visit my FAQ page to see common COVID-19 related questions/answers and submit a question.
The United States and the world face the potential for a dangerous global outbreak of the respiratory disease known as COVID-19 - the coronavirus.
What began as a new virus in the Hubei Province of China has spread to at least 37 locations, including here in the United States. On January 30, the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
I take the safety of Pennsylvanians and Americans incredibly seriously, which is why I am calling for immediate action from Congress and the White House. I’ve also compiled helpful resources and recommendations for Pennsylvanians to help keep our communities safe and healthy as the coronavirus continues to spread. As developments unfold, my team and I will update this page with new information for you and your loved ones. Like any major flu or respiratory virus, please follow the advice and recommendations of medical professionals to minimize and mitigate public health risks.
It is recommended Pennsylvanians take time to prepare now. Resources available here.
RESOURCES FOR INDIVIDUALS
Because the coronavirus has caused illness and sustained person-to-person spread, COVID-19 currently meets two of the three criteria for being deemed a global pandemic. Those at higher risk include health care workers and people who may have been exposed through travel, as well as those people’s close contacts. The CDC has developed guidance for these communities to help with risk assessment and management of potential COVID-19 exposure:
On March 19, the U.S. Department of State issued a Global Level 4 Do Not Travel Health Advisory.
According to the CDC, "reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death. Symptoms can include: fever, cough, and shortness of breath." Based on past viruses that were similar in nature, the CDC believes that symptoms may appear anywhere between 2-14 days after exposure.
The CDC is encouraging all Americans to take the following everyday preventive actions, much like you would during a standard severe flu season. Vigilance in these efforts could save lives:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Wear facemasks in all public environments and maintain 6 feet of distance betweet yourself and others.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
According to the CDC, “If you develop a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as cough or shortness of breath, within 14 days after travel, you should call ahead to a healthcare professional and mention your recent travel or close contact. If you have had close contact with someone showing these symptoms who has recently traveled from this area, you should call ahead to a healthcare professional and mention your close contact and their recent travel. Your healthcare professional will work with your state’s public health department and CDC to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19.”
Should you find yourself or a loved one in this position, the CDC has issued the following
- Stay home except to get medical care.
- Separate yourself from people and animals.
- Call ahead and inform your health care provider about your exposure or suspected exposure so that they can protect other patients before your arrival.
- Wear a facemask.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes.
- Clean your hands and “high-touch” surfaces.
- Avoid sharing personal items.
- Monitor your symptoms.
There is a lot that is still unknown about COVID-19. The CDC makes clear that determinations of risk based on race or country of origin are not warranted or appropriate, and like any medical case, the confidentiality of confirmed coronavirus patients must be maintained. Preventative measures like those typically advised for seasonal flu and other contagious respiratory diseases are recommended. Vigilance in the workplace can help control the spread of any such diseases.
- Proactively encourage sick employees to stay home. This is a common struggle during flu season, but especially in light of the coronavirus, active encouragement to not bring illness into the workplace without stigma or guilt for calling out sick is beneficial. Employees with acute respiratory illness should not return to work until they are free of fever and any other symptoms for at least 24 hours, without the assistance of fever-reducing/symptom-reducing medication.
- Encourage companies that you may have contract or temporary employment agreements with to make similar, non-punitive leave arrangements for their employees.
- Do not require a “doctor’s note” for employees who are sick with acute respiratory illnesses, as health care providers may be overwhelmed with similar cases and it may not be medically necessary for a patient to come in.
- The CDC recommends that employees who appear to have symptoms of acute respiratory illness be separated from other employees and sent home.
- Emphasize and encourage good respiratory and hand-cleaning etiquette. Place posters and fact sheets made available by the CDC around your workplace where employees are likely to see them. Instruct employees on hand-washing technique and note that alcohol-based hand sanitizers should contain at least 60-95% alcohol to be considered effective. Make soap, water, and alcohol-based sanitizer available in your workplace.
- Routinely clean surfaces such as workstations, countertops, and doorknobs, and provide disposable wipes for employees to use throughout the day. As of February 25, the CDC is not recommending additional disinfection beyond these standard practices.
- Share the information found on this page, or directly on the CDC website, with your employees. Help inform them of the steps they can take to minimize exposure and risk to COVID-19, seasonal flu, and other respiratory illnesses.
In addition to these everyday steps, the CDC recommends creating an infectious disease outbreak response plan so that in the event of wider outbreak, you are prepared to protect your company and employees. Some things to consider:
- Certain communities are historically more at-risk when exposed to respiratory disease (e.g., older adults, those with compromised immune systems, etc.) Even healthy employees may find themselves having to care for sick loved ones, or take on unexpected care duties if entities like child care facilities close or experience an outbreak. Cross-training personnel is a good way to help spread out the burden of unexpected absences within an organization.
- Coordinate with state and local health officials to ensure you’re receiving and sharing timely and accurate information pertaining to the region(s) your organization operates in.
- Consider establishing procedures such as telecommuting or staggered shifts so that human contact is minimized in the event of an outbreak.