PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Amid the coronavirus outbreak, local health officials say they are prepared for the worst but believe the worst may never come.
As the number of Coronavirus cases and hospitalizations rise, is the local health system ready?
Both UPMC and the Allegheny Health Network says yes.
“We are preparing for a surge that we hope will never arrive, but we’re ready for the worst,” Dr. Don Yealy of UPMC’s Department of Emergency Medicine said.
Despite dozens of anonymous emails KDKA has received from nurses and staff saying personal protective equipment such as N95 masks and gloves are in short supply, both UPMC and AHN say they have ample.
“Some believe we are short on supplies. Let me emphasize, we are not short on protective supplies. Any employee who can’t find the protective equipment they want immediately, have the ability to talk to a supervisor and get the equipment necessary,”
Systemwide, UPMC says it has 750 intensive care beds and hundreds more on the ready should there be a dramatic surge in hospitalization.
But at this point, numbers don’t indicate that will happen.
Of close to 2,000 people reporting to UPMC with symptoms, only nine have tested positive.
“COVID-19 is here but not necessarily as intensively active or widespread as other regions of our country,” Dr. Graham Synder of UPMC Infection Prevention & Hospital Epidemiology.
The relatively low prevalence of cases here could indicate that measures such as business closings, hand-washing and social distancing are paying off.
“The hope is that the targeted public health interventions that are being put into place can flatten the curve,” Synder said.
AHN is expressing cautious optimism this will be the case.
“We’re don’t see the number that other people are seeing right now and I think that’s hopeful,” AHN Chief Nurse Executive Claire Zangerle said. “Knock on wood, we don’t see the kind of surge that we are planning for. But if we don’t plan, we’ll probably see it. So that’s why we’re planning for the worst and hoping for the best.”
The Pennsylvania Department of Health confirmed 531 new positive cases of Coronavirus on Friday, as well as six additional deaths.
Total cases of the virus statewide now stands at 2,218 in 50 counties. There are 22 total deaths.
There are now 158 active cases in Allegheny County, the most in Western Pennsylvania.