Levine urges continued caution as some counties move to reopen

By: - May 7, 2020 3:06 pm

Pa. Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine briefs the press on Saturday, 4/25/20

As 24 counties in the northwest and north-central parts of Pennsylvania plan to reopen Friday, state health officials urged Pennsylvanians to be cautious and continue following social distancing measures as they venture out into their communities. 

“Pennsylvanians are spending more time outdoors, and that’s great,” state Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said on a virtual press conference Thursday, but warned that spending more time outdoors could lead to more instances of tick-borne illnesses such as Lyme disease. 

Pennsylvania is among the highest in the nation for cases of tick-borne diseases. 

Levine encouraged Pennsylvanians to use repellents containing deet to prevent tick bites. 

Symptoms of Lyme disease include, but are not limited to:

  • Fatigue 
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • A rash, sometimes bullseye-shaped, however not everyone will experience a rash
  • Joint pain and stiffness

While Jersey Shore beaches are re-opening and no restrictions keep Pennsylvanians within state boundaries, Levine encouraged Pennsylvanians to “stay home.”

“My recommendation is not to do that,” Levine said. Because it would be “almost impossible to practice social distancing.”

Erie among 24 counties reopening on Friday: Here’s how the locals are getting ready

Levine also said residents should err on the side of caution on Mother’s day if they live in a “red zone” county, opting for virtual visits rather than in-person visits. 

In the “yellow zone,” Levine said that visits are possible, but not if the mother lives in a personal care home or nursing home. 

“We have been successful in flattening that curve,” Levine said. But emphasized that COVID is still present across the state. 

The state Health Department still prioritizes testing for people who are symptomatic, Levine said, adding that Rite Aid is opening its testing sites to asymptomatic individuals. 

Levine called the state’s various testing sites an “eclectic group.”

When asked by journalists about COVID-19 cases this fall and the chance of a possible resurgence, Levine said, “It’s very hard for me to predict what the fall is going to look like.”

She added that the seasonal increase in cases of influenza could make another COVID-19 outbreak difficult to contain. 

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