By: KDKA-TV News Staff
HARRISBURG (KDKA) – Gov. Tom Wolf held a press conference Monday with a message for the state: “Pennsylvania, we have a problem.”
The governor is warning that not following coronavirus mitigation efforts will overwhelm hospitals and healthcare workers, affecting emergency care for everyone.
“If we don’t slow the spread of this dangerous virus now, if we don’t do this, the reality is that COVID-19 will overwhelm our hospitals, will overwhelm our healthcare systems,” Gov. Wolf said.
Last week, Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said southwestern Pennsylvania is struggling with staffing and a third or more of the hospitals in our region will soon experience staffing shortages.
“If COVID cases continue to climb at the same rate they’re growing now, demand for hospital beds and resources will continue to grow and could overwhelm our hospitals and healthcare workers,” said Gov. Wolf.
“If that happens, it will affect everyone who needs emergency care — and again, not just the COVID patients. It will affect all aspects of emergency care and all aspects of our healthcare systems’ ability to respond.”
Wolf asks the public to comply with Covid protocols. “If our hospitals are overwhelmed people who would have been saved will die. That is unacceptable.” @KDKA
— Andy Sheehan (@AndySheehankdka) December 7, 2020
He said it’s becoming “increasingly likely” that hospitals won’t be able to treat all sick Pennsylvanians as COVID-19 continues to spread, leading to more deaths.
“We can stop the spread of COVID-19 if we work together,” the governor said, urging people to stay home, not to attend gatherings and to wear a mask when they have to leave the house.
When it comes to new mitigation measures, he said he thought restrictions from a few weeks ago would have worked and stopped the numbers from becoming as “alarming” as they are now.
“We are looking at all sorts of issues right now, and very shortly we’ll come back with more recommendations,” he said.
The message the governor said he wanted to emphasize is that people need to take the virus seriously, and he said the state will be looking at what it can do.
“All of us are in this together, and the state needs to do whatever it can and we will continue to do that, and if we need to do more, we will, and we will be making that decision very shortly,” he said.
The warning from the governor comes as the statewide percent positivity for Nov. 27 through Dec. 3 jumped to 14.4% compared to 11.7% the week before. There are nine counties — including Somerset and Lawrence in our area — experiencing percent positivity at or above 20%.
Last week, there was a seven-day increase of more than 48,000 cases and 66 out of the state’s 67 counties have “substantial” transmission of the virus.