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'We've Got A Long Way To Go': Chief Medical Officer Of Butler Health System Has Stark Warnings About Coronavirus Pandemic

BUTLER COUNTY (KDKA) -- The chief medical officer of Butler Health System is bracing for the worst and taking precautions as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

"We've got a long way to go," Dr. David Rottinghaus said. "I don't know how bad it's going to get, but please look after each other."

Butler Health System's readiness includes a surge capacity ICU in the hospital and a makeshift hospital at a nearby abandoned school.

"I think our region will be prepared," Rottinghaus said. "I think we will all work very well together and be prepared to take care of the folks in our region."

On Monday, the Pennsylvania Department of Health said there were 91 confirmed cases of the virus and two deaths in the county.

Dr. Rottinghaus says while southwestern Pennsylvania hasn't been hit as hard as New York, some unsettling themes have emerged here.

"It continues to surprise us how much it can affect young people," Rottinghaus said.

While the virus is widely known to impact older patients, especially those with multiple medical problems, there are also a lot of unknowns, Dr. Rottinghaus says.

Then there are the atypical symptoms.

More information on the Coronavirus pandemic:

"We're seeing a lot of different and new neurologic symptoms, weakness, numbness, tingling," Rottinghaus said.

Dr. Rottinghaus is also a father of four battling fears on the frontlines and at home.

As he looks into the eyes of his wife and four teenagers, he tells them what he tells everyone: radical precautions are necessary.

"Not many kids live through a pandemic," Rottinghaus said. "So this is truly been a life-altering event that they're going to remember.


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