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Pennsylvania official urges people to participate in COVID-19 case investigations

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Hospitals in crisis mode amid COVID-19 surge
Hospitals in crisis mode as U.S. coronavirus deaths top 283,000 02:29

Pennsylvania officials discussed COVID-19 testing and tracing efforts in the state at a briefing on Tuesday. Lindsey Mauldin, special assistant on contact tracing for the Department of Health, urged people to participate in case investigations. 

"If you test positive for COVID-19 and are considered high risk, you will receive a call from a case investigator," she said. 

She said people will be asked who they came into contact with and where they went while infectious. "The information shared during this conversation will remain anonymous, and close contacts are not informed of who they came in contact with."

Governor Tom Wolf issued a desperate plea to Pennsylvanians this week to try and do more to stop the spread of virus. He said hospitals and the health care system are on the verge of not being able to take care of people.

"If the worst happens, hospitals will not be able to treat all sick Pennsylvanians and will be forced to turn away people who need treatment," Governor Wolf warned on Monday, CBS Philly reports. "That means more Pennsylvanians will die."

"Crowded conditions and dwindling resources are a reality in hospitals all across the commonwealth and so are staffing shortages due to increased patient needs and medical workers who are falling ill themselves," Wolf said.

Joining the governor's briefing was Maureen Casey, a nurse from Hershey Health Center, who described an endless stream of patients.

"Like waves on a shore, it just keeps coming. Nurses go home, cry in the shower, cry in their car alone because of the desperation and exhaustion they feel," Casey said. "As a nurse, we just have one simple ask, please wear a mask. It's a simple thing but it gets the job done."

Officials say COVID-19 is spreading in all communities. According to contact tracing, these are the locations visited by people recently infected. 

  • 48% restaurants 
  • 29% other businesses 
  • 16% bars 
  • 13% salons/barbershops 
  • 12% gym/fitness center 

State officials say they were hoping stepped-up mitigation efforts of reducing gathering sizes would slow the spread. It hasn't, and the governor is now pleading with citizens to be more careful so he isn't forced to issue new restrictions.

"We are continuing to look at the numbers and if we have to do more, we will," Wolf said. "We have to commit to protect one another until the vaccine becomes widely available."

Wolf wouldn't specify what additional measures were being considered if the numbers don't stabilize but he said they would be announced "very shortly."

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