The Lead

First death from COVID-19 reported in Pennsylvania

By: - March 18, 2020 5:04 pm

(This story was updated at 6 p.m. with comment from Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf)

Gov. Tom Wolf urged Pennsylvanians to stay in their homes and minimize social interactions on Wednesday as COVID-19 claimed its first life in the Keystone State.

The State Department of Health confirmed on Wednesday afternoon that an adult patient from Northampton County who tested positive for COVID died after being treated in the hospital.

Addressing the public by a video livestream from his home in York County on Wednesday evening, Wolf said officials would not release any additional details out of respect for the patient’s family. 

Pennsylvania has 133 cases of COVID in 18 counties across the state.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported 97 deaths from COVID in America as of 4 p.m. Wednesday.

A somber Wolf called the death in Northampton County “just the first of what will become many.”

But he said Pennsylvanians could avert the worst outcome by observing the orders he put in place on Monday, March 16, when he asked all non-essential businesses, retail facilities, gyms and sporting venues to close for at least two weeks. 

Last week, Wolf ordered all of Pennsylvania’s K-12 schools to close for the same period of time.

Wolf said the extreme social distancing would help slow the spread of the highly contagious virus, which experts say will overwhelm the American healthcare system if it spreads too quickly.

“We need to stay home if we want to save lives,” Wolf said. “We need to work together if we want to save lives. I believe Pennsylvanians are a great people, and that all of us together will step up and do our part to get through this crisis.”

(Capital-Star Staff Reporter Elizabeth Hardison contributed to this story)

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Stephen Caruso
Stephen Caruso

Stephen Caruso is a former senior reporter with Pennsylvania Capital-Star. Before working with the Capital-Star he covered Pennsylvania state government for The PLS Reporter.