Wolf: Pa. is making progress in COVID-19 fight, but doesn’t rule out extending stay-at-home order

    Gov. Tom Wolf delivers a daily press briefing Monday, April 6. (Screen capture)

    Gov. Tom Wolf on Monday said it’s too early to tell whether or not his statewide stay-at-home order would have to last longer than the end of April, but he did stress that it appears to be paying off in Pennsylvania’s fight against COVID-19. 

    One month after Pennsylvania confirmed its first two cases of the disease caused by the coronavirus, the state’s early exponential increase in new cases has given way to a slightly slower rate of growth, Wolf said Monday, speaking at a daily briefing at Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency headquarters in suburban Harrisburg. 

    The number of cases continues to rise dramatically each day. State officials have confirmed at least 1,000 new COVID-19 cases in Pennsylvania each day since Thursday; the statewide total stood at 12,980 cases as of Monday. 

    The latest on COVID-19 in Pa.: 12,980 confirmed cases in 65 counties

    But Wolf said the rate at which cases are increasing is “flattening,” thanks in part to the stay-at-home order he issued last week that will last through April 30.

    “It seems to be making a difference,” Wolf said Monday, in his first appearance at PEMA headquarters in weeks. During public appearances, Wolf has been appearing via video conference from his home in York County. “If an extension is necessary, we’ll do that, because it’s going to save lives.”

    Wolf also urged Pennsylvania’s manufacturing sector on Monday to deploy its resources to make and distribute COVID-related medical equipment, including masks, gloves, and other medical supplies.

    An online portal established over the weekend will allow manufacturers and distributors to report details about their supply chains and workforce capabilities to the state Department of Community and Economic Development, which will help coordinate resources to get crucial supplies on the market, according to a press release from the Wolf administration. 

    The number of COVID-19 cases in Pennsylvania could peak in as few as five days, according to projections from an independent health research center at the University of Washington. 

    Those projections, which anticipate that hospital beds and intensive care units will be in ample supply to support the patient surge, assume that Pennsylvanians will practice full social distancing through May 2020. 

    State health officials have declined to offer their own projections of when COVID-19 cases could peak in Pennsylvania, though Wolf said on Monday that “a surge is coming.”