As COVID cases trend downward, Levine urges Pennsylvanians ‘not to be complacent’

    Gov. Tom Wolf briefs the media at Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency HQ in suburban Harrisburg on Friday, 3/6/20 (Screen Capture)

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Pennsylvania is one of three states (Montana and Hawaii are the others) to show a downward trajectory of COVID-19 cases over the past 42 days, Gov. Tom Wolf said during a press conference Wednesday. 

    He attributed the numbers to the state’s quick shutdown as the pandemic ramped up. 

    “Because we took quick, decisive action, we never really reached the sky-high new rates that many other states have reached,” Wolf said, noting that Pennsylvania never had shortages of ventilators or hospitals overwhelmed with patients. “Now we have the data and we know that our science-based approach has made Pennsylvania actually one of the leading states when it comes to addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.”

    Wolf said people should continue to wear masks in public places even as more counties enter the green phase of reopening. “Wearing a mask does not impinge on our freedom,” the governor said. “It gives us more freedom from unknowingly spreading COVID-19 to others.”

    On Wednesday, Pennsylvania reported 335 new cases of COVID-19 and 43 new deaths, bringing the state’s total since March 6 to 79,818 cases and 6,319 deaths. Allegheny County reported zero new cases Wednesday.

    Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said about 79 percent of Pennsylvanians who contracted the coronavirus have recovered. She encouraged those who have had COVID-19 and are fully recovered to donate plasma to help treat other patients.  

    “Because you have recovered, your plasma now contains COVID-19 antibodies,” Levine explained. “Those antibodies could help someone now, who is battling the virus as we speak. If we see the potential anticipated resurgence of COVID-19 in the fall and winter, then your plasma may help many more people in their recovery.”

    Levine cautioned that while state officials remain optimistic that the case counts will continue to go down, the virus is not gone. “It is very important for people not to be complacent and not to have a false sense of security that the virus is somehow gone from Pennsylvania, or gone from the United States,” she said. “It is not, and most people remain susceptible. They do not have antibodies for this virus.”

    Correspondent Kim Lyons covers Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania for the Capital-Star. Follow her on Twitter @SocialKimLy.