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Some Pennsylvania counties have few or no ICU beds left amid COVID-19 surge, says health official

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Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said Thursday that a "number of" counties in the state have only a few ICU beds left — or none left at all — as the state continues to battle a surge in COVID-19 cases. More than 1,000 COVID-19 patients are in ICUs and about 5,000 are hospitalized with the virus.

Two regions in the state are also facing a hospital staffing crisis, with more than a third of hospitals in those regions expecting staffing shortages within a week, according to the state's health department. 

CBS Philly reports officials in Montgomery County are growing increasingly concerned about hospitals running out of space due to a surge in patients. Right now, there are 362 patients with COVID-19 who are hospitalized in the county.

"Most hospitals in Montgomery County are at or near capacity. The majority have had to divert patients from their emergency rooms during the last several days for some period of time and some are beginning to cancel scheduled surgeries in order to create more staff beds for COVID-19 patients," said Dr. Valerie Arkoosh, chair of the Montgomery Board of Commissioners.

Officials say the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients has increased by 92 since last Tuesday.

This comes one day after Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley voiced similar concerns about the city. Farley said this week hospitalizations were also increasing, with more patients being admitted than discharged.

There are also growing concerns about cases increasing after the Thanksgiving holiday, he said. "Still concerned that hospitals may come under strain just in the next two to three weeks," Farley said.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has announced a new testing initiative aimed at identifying cases quickly.

"The Department of Health has expanded its contract with AMI Expeditionary Healthcare to deploy five regional testing strike teams throughout Pennsylvania over the next 12 weeks," Wolf said Tuesday.

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