SCRANTON, Pa. — The explosion of COVID-19 cases in Hazleton has caused Luzerne County Manager C. David Pedri to ask Gov. Tom Wolf to take strong actions to help stop the pandemic, “up to and including mobilization of the National Guard.”
“I am fearful that if more aggressive steps are not taken to curb certain travel to and from the city, to enforce social distancing and ‘stay-at-home’ orders, then our health system will be overwhelmed and our community will suffer catastrophic losses,” Pedri wrote in a Friday letter sent to both Wolf and the media.
He pointed out that more than 300 people have tested positive for COVID-19 at Lehigh Valley Health Network facilities in Hazleton.
“There are realistic projections that these cases will double every day,” Pedri wrote.
Luzerne County, with a population of 317,343, has 484 positive cases of COVID-19. Five people have died. To put that in perspective with the rest of the state, Delaware County, with a population of more than 560,000, has 542 cases and 10 deaths.
Luzerne County has been an outlier in Northeastern Pennsylvania, according to numbers released by the state’s department of health.
It is surrounded by Lackawanna County to the northeast, Monroe County to the east, Carbon County to the southeast, Schuylkill County to the south, Columbia County to the southwest, and Sullivan and Wyoming counties to the north.
Aside from Monroe County, with 397 cases and 10 deaths among a population of 168,000, none of the nearby counties are suffering a similar in scale outbreak.
Lackawanna County, with a population of 210,000, has 119 confirmed cases and four deaths. Carbon County has 34 cases and one death. Schuylkill County has 63 cases and no deaths. Columbia County has 15 cases. Sullivan and Wyoming counties have combined for two cases.