‘Give your loved ones a call:’ Wolf offers tips to ‘stressed’ Pennsylvanians

Gov. Tom Wolf addresses the state on Wednesday, 4/22/20 his plan to reopen parts of Pennsylvania starting May 8, 2020 (Screen Capture)

The COVID-19 epidemic has a lot of Pennsylvanians stressed out and Gov. Tom Wolf offered Pennsylvanians some tips on Friday.

“Health and economic fears are increasing anxiety at the same time that many of our stress-relieving activities are limited,” Wolf explained during an online news conference.

“These negative feelings are coming from anxiety, which is a trickier subject because it’s not coming from one specific stresser,” he said. “We might be getting less exercise because our gym is closed. … We might not be getting enough sleep because we’re off our regular schedules.”

Wolf pointed out residents can take midday walks, set up virtual happy hours with colleagues over the internet, or reach out to helplines. A crisis helpline is available at 855-284-2494. Residents can also call the 211 helpline, as well.

“Give your loved ones a call and see how they’re doing,” Wolf said. He also said the state will have a new Facebook page next Friday that will help residents dealing with toxic stress.

The latest on COVID-19 in Pa.: 38,652 confirmed cases in 67 counties

Wolf admitted that the unemployment process could add stress. The state continues to add more personnel and technology to the system to help get people through as quickly as possible.

However, he pointed out, the system was not designed to handle this level of unemployment.

More than 1.5 million Pennsylvanians have claimed unemployment since March 15, according to the Office of Unemployment Compensation.

The press conference, which included state Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine, touched on several other important subjects.

The commonwealth is closing in on 40,000 cases and 1,500 deaths. The 1,599 new cases announced today are the most since the state announced 1,628 on April 18.

Levine noted that about 70 percent of the state’s ventilators are still available. She also reminded people to continue good practices, such as hand-washing, wearing masks and staying home as much as possible.

Wolf echoed those sentiments as he was asked repeatedly about plans to begin opening the state back up May 8. Republican U.S. Senator Pat Toomey released his own timeline Thursday that was more aggressive than Wolf’s. The governor said both leaders have the same goal, but had different viewpoints of how to get there.

Wolf also addressed the likelihood of a new wave of COVID-19 cases in the fall.

“We don’t know how big that wave is going to be,” Wolf said. He said the seriousness of that wave will be dictated by our behavior. “We do know that if we all practice responsible behavior in the intervening time … the resurgence in the fall isn’t going to be as great.”

Levine was asked about President Donald Trump’s comments yesterday during a White House briefing when he suggested looking into whether injecting disinfectants could kill the virus. It’s a comment President Trump now claims was made sarcastically.

Levine, who had been a practicing pediatrician, found nothing funny about the idea of ingesting or injecting disinfectants. 

Having seen first hand the effect ingesting disinfectants had on children, Levine said, “that is an extremely dangerous thing to do.”