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At this pace, the state will run out of critical care beds in about a week.
The number of coronavirus patients in Pennsylvania continues to surge, growing from 170 to 316 in two days.
About a week ago, there had been 21 hospitalizations.
Also, the number of patients in ICU care has grown from 56 on Thursday to about 307 on Saturday.
If this rate of hospitalizations and ICU care continues to grow at this pace, the number of patients will exceed ICU beds in the state in about a week.
As of 9:15 a.m. Saturday, 316 coronavirus patients were in Pennsylvania hospitals, with 97 percent of them in intensive care units, according to Maggi Mumma, spokeswoman for the state Department of Health.
The number of patients who have needed a life-saving ventilator, which is a machine that helps a person breathe or breathes for them, has also increased. On Thursday, 32 patients had needed ventilators. As of Saturday morning, 56 patients needed ventilators, Mumma said.
Another area of growth is found in the percentage of people who test positive for COVID-19 and also need to be hospitalized. There had been a 10 percent hospitalization rate for weeks in Pennsylvania. As of Saturday, 11.5 percent of people who tested positive needed to be hospitalized, state health data shows.
State health officials at this time will not release a county-by-county breakdown of where the hospitalizations are, Mumma said.
About 40 percent of the states ICU beds are still available, according to state health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine. Just a couple of days ago she reported that 60 percent of the state’s ICU beds were available.
Hospitalizations are growing as the number of positive COVID-19 tests increases exponentially. Some 533 new cases were added Saturday in the latest report from the state Department of Health.
That brings the total number of positive cases to 2,751 in 56 counties, signaling a spread across almost the entire state. Just 11 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties have yet to report a positive case.
The state health department on Saturday also reported 12 new deaths related to the coronavirus, bringing the Pennsylvania total to 34.
Two of those deaths were in central Pennsylvania, with one in Cumberland County and another in Lancaster County.
Following the latest information from the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Gov. Tom Wolf expanded his stay-at-home order to include Beaver, Centre and Washington counties. A stay-at-home order for York and Lancaster counties, and several others, had been put in place on Friday.
Pennsylvania now has 22 counties under stay-at-home orders to stop the spread of disease.
Wolf has said these orders were needed to stop the spread of the coronavirus and keep hospitals from being overwhelmed.
“The biggest challenge in Pennsylvania is the same as other places – we have too few facilities to care for the number of critically ill if we have a surge in cases,” he said.
Social distancing is the only thing that will work in stopping the spread of the disease, Wolf said.
“We must prevent people from contracting COVID-19,” he said. “Pennsylvanians are smart and they’re strong. When I asked everyone to stay at home, most complied. Pennsylvanians know their actions don’t just help themselves, they help everyone else. And I thank each and every one of them for doing their part during this crisis.”
Candy Woodall is a reporter for the USA Today Network. She can be reached at 717-480-1783 or on Twitter at @candynotcandace.
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