The Lead

Health officials: Pa. now has 11 coronavirus cases; eight in Montgomery County alone

By: - March 10, 2020 1:45 pm

Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine. Source: Pennsylvania Department of Health.

The latest coronavirus patient in Pennsylvania is an adult from Montgomery County who is currently hospitalized at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia, state health officials announced Tuesday.

The case marks the eighth in Montgomery County and the 11th statewide. The newest patient contracted the virus after coming into contact with another individual who tested presumptively positive for it, state Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said during a noontime press briefing. 

Levine said the most recent case does not indicate that the virus is circulating throughout the community — the stage of an epidemic known as “community spread.” The most recent patient who tested positive for the virus has a known point of close contact with another carrier, Levine said.

“We’re aware exactly how they became infected,” Sharon Watkins, a Department of Health epidemiologist, said Tuesday. 

Levine also said Tuesday that a Monroe County patient who was hospitalized after testing positive for coronavirus had been released. The patient now remains in isolation at home, Levine said. 

The Department of Health previously said patients were under quarantine in their homes. But Levine distinguished between isolation and quarantine on Tuesday, noting that patients in isolation are presumed to be sick and separated from others to prevent the spread of their illness.

Isolation is usually voluntary, but the Department of Health does have the authority to legally isolate people who are sick, Levine said. 

Quarantine, on the other hand, applies to individuals who may have come in contact with the virus. Quarantined individuals face restrictions on their movements while health officials wait to see if they become sick.

Quarantine can also be voluntary. But Levine said the Department of Health can require someone to become quarantined if they have come in contact with someone who has an infectious illness.

State health officials are treating Pennsylvania’s 11 cases of coronavirus as “presumed positive” pending confirmation testing from the federal Center for Disease Control. 

Levine urged Pennsylvanians to continue practicing good hygiene, to stay home if they are sick and to stay calm as the state responds to the outbreak.

Philadelphia reported its first case on Tuesday, according to multiple news reports. City health officials were set to hold a briefing later in the day.

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Elizabeth Hardison
Elizabeth Hardison

Elizabeth Hardison covered education policy, election administration, criminal justice and legislative news for the Capital-Star from Jan. 2019-April 2021. You can find her on Twitter @ElizHardison.