The Lead

As fall COVID surge continues, Pa.’s hospitals, healthcare systems feel the strain

By: - December 11, 2020 2:02 pm

The Pennsylvania Department of Health confirmed 12,745 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, bringing the statewide total to 470,034.

The department also confirmed 225 new deaths, bringing the total of COVID-related deaths in Pennsylvania to 12,235.

The new case counts come a day after Gov. Tom Wolf announced new restrictions in the hopes of preventing the state’s healthcare systems from being overwhelmed.

With vaccine on the horizon, Wolf imposes new COVID mitigation measures

There are currently 5,877 Pennsylvanians hospitalized with the virus. Of that number, 1,218 are in the intensive care unit, the Department of Health confirmed.

On a call with reporters Thursday, Wolf was joined by representatives from Pennsylvania-based healthcare systems, Penn State Health and Geisinger Health, to share what hospitals across the state have experienced regarding COVID-19 this fall.

Jaewon Ryu, president and CEO of Geisinger Health System, said that the virus has strained the healthcare network’s ability to care for other patients.

Still in scrubs from his shift in the emergency department, Dr. Chris DeFlitch, vice president and chief medical information officer echoed Ryu’s comments, calling the pandemic a “marathon.”

DeFlitch said the volume of cases this fall has been “significant.”

“This surge is nothing like the spring surge,” he said.

As of Friday, new daily case counts in Pennsylvania are higher than in neighboring states such as Ohio, New Jersey and New York, according to data from investigative news site Spotlight PA.

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