HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The Pennsylvania Department of Health says the number of people who have tested positive for the coronavirus in the commonwealth has topped 10,000 with another 34 deaths reported, bringing the statewide total to 136.
The department reported Saturday another 1,597 additional positive cases, bringing the statewide total to 10,017 across all but three of the commonwealth's 67 counties.
Officials say most patients hospitalized and most deaths have occurred in patients aged 65 or older. There have been no pediatric deaths to date, officials said.
For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up in a couple of weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems are at higher risk of more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.
Gov. Tom Wolf is urging religious groups to limit in-person gatherings as significant holidays for a number of faiths approach in the coming weeks.
The governor has ordered Pennsylvania residents to stay home as much as possible over the coming month. He said nothing in the order should affect the operation of religious institutions, but “religious leaders are encouraged to find alternatives to in-person gatherings and to avoid endangering their congregants."
“Individuals should not gather in religious buildings or homes for services or celebrations until the stay-at-home order is lifted,” the governor said in a statement Saturday.
A number of religious leaders were quoted in the statement urging fellow leaders to embrace alternate forms of worship.
NUCLEAR PLANT REFUELING-CORONAVIRUS
Officials at the Limerick nuclear power plant in southeastern Pennsylvania say one of about 1,400 contract workers involved in a refueling outage has tested positive for the coronavirus.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Exelon Generation had notified county health officials that a contract worker at the Montgomery County plant had tested positive Thursday night. The worker, who is from central Pennsylvania, was last on site Monday, and officials say areas he used have been decontaminated.
Company communications director Lacy Dean said two full-time workers were diagnosed earlier but hadn't been on site since March 20. The refueling outage began March 27.
Some officials and anti-nuclear activists have suggested postponement of the effort, in which one-third of the nuclear fuel in Unit 1 is to be replaced. But Limerick spokesman Dave Marcheskie said officials “do not have that luxury” since refueling is needed to keep the complex operating at capacity during high-demand summer months.
MEDICAL PERSONNEL-COLLEGE DORMS
Some now-empty eastern Pennsylvania college dorms may be used to house medical professionals who need to self-quarantine or don't feel comfortable going home to their families after working with patients amid the coronavirus epidemic.
The (Allentown) Morning Call reports that St. Luke’s University Health Network and Lehigh Valley Health Network have approached Cedar Crest College, DeSales University, Moravian College, Muhlenberg College and Lehigh University about space for medical professionals.
Lehigh Valley Health Network spokesman Brian Downs said the discussions were being held “purely as contingency planning” for caregivers.
Muhlenberg said it will also be using one of its houses for first responders in Lehigh County who have been exposed to positive cases and need to be isolated from their families.
Moravian President Bryon Grigsby noted that Gen. George Washington asked the school, the nation's sixth-oldest college, to convert the Brethren's House into a hospital to treat soldiers during the Revolutionary War.
Students across the nation have been sent home to do online classes for the rest of the semester amid the outbreak.
GROCERY STORE MANAGER-SPITTING
Authorities are trying to identify a man accused of having spat on a grocery store manager during an altercation in western Pennsylvania.
Allegheny County police say Edgewood police were called to the Giant Eagle on Wednesday after a verbal altercation between a customer and a store manager. Police allege that during the altercation, the customer spat on the side of the manager's face before leaving the store.
Allegheny police say the man paid $50 for a money order but then demanded that he receive $100 for the order.
Detectives have posted a photo of the suspect and are asking anyone who recognizes him to contact investigators.