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President Trump Declares National Emergency, Governor Wolf Orders School Closures

PA Hospitals Prepared for Continued COVID-19 Response

Today, President Donald Trump declared the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) a national emergency and Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf today announced a two-week closure of the commonwealth’s public schools. Pennsylvania’s hospital community is prepared to respond to COVID-19.

The national emergency declaration allows for $50 billion to flow from the federal government to impacted states. Additionally, it also would provide the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to provide more flexibility to the health care community in its effort to address COVID-19. This flexibility is intended to help expand testing capability and help provide additional care for people who test positive for the disease.

As cases of COVID-19 continue to rise in Pennsylvania, Governor Tom Wolf today announced a two-week closure of the commonwealth’s public schools, as a result of continuous efforts to contain the spread. Wolf’s announcement follows similar recent action by governors in neighboring states, including Ohio and Maryland.

A key element of reducing the spread of an illness like COVID-19 is through social distancing. Governor Wolf and Secretary of Health Rachel Levine, MD, have advised Pennsylvanians who are ill—or those who have existing conditions or compromised immune systems—to avoid close contact with others and large crowds. All Pennsylvanians are encouraged to do their part to support public health efforts by frequently washing your hands with soap and warm water, covering your coughs and sneezes, and sanitizing frequently used surfaces.

In keeping with social distancing best practices, some health care facilities are reviewing or have revised their visitation policies. HAP encourages everyone to call a facility before you visit, to find out whether there are restrictions or limitations to visitation. Everyone is encouraged to use technology—such as phones and video chat—to communicate with loved ones during this time.

Pennsylvanians should know that the state’s hospital community is prepared to respond to COVID-19. Pennsylvania does not have a public hospital system, so HAP plays a key role in helping the hospital community prepare for and respond to emergencies, including illnesses like the flu and COVID-19. Pennsylvania’s hospitals are open and providing the excellent care they do each day. If you are not feeling well, contact your primary care provider who can decide if you need hospital level care. Please only go to emergency department if you need hospital-level care. This will help our hospitals make sure they have enough resources and space to care for everyone who needs them.

For more information about HAP’s emergency management and preparedness for COVID-19, contact Mark Ross, HAP’s vice president, emergency management.

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