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York County hospitals prepared to handle 'alarming escalation' in COVID-19 cases

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch

Despite a recent spike in COVID-19 cases in Pennsylvania, WellSpan York Hospital and UPMC Memorial Hospital are both prepared to handle more patients, officials said.

An "alarming escalation" of cases of the coronavirus cases is underway statewide, Gov. Tom Wolf warned Wednesday, adding that a “new surge is in the offing" that could eclipse cases in the spring, Associated Press reported.

"We have been able to develop plans that allow us to flex the capacity of the hospital as needed," said Matt Heckel, a spokesperson for WellSpan Health via email. "WellSpan York Hospital is prepared for an increase in COVID-19 patients." 

York Hospital, located at 1001 S. George St., currently has 21 COVID-19 positive patients in the hospital, with 60 intensive care unit beds available.

More:York County has one new death linked to COVID-19, 16 total statewide

More:'Alarming escalation': How will Gov. Wolf's new restrictions affect you?

If needed, however, WellSpan also has the ability to "more than double" the number of ICU beds at the facility, Heckel added.

"We have not had to take those measures in recent weeks or at this time, but are prepared to do so when needed," he said.

At UPMC Memorial Hospital, located at 1701 Innovation Drive, there are 98 patient beds available and operations are continuing normally at the facility, said Kendall Marcocci, a spokesperson for UPMC.

Across the UPMC system, facilities are treating 157 inpatients who are positive for COVID-19, including 41 patients being treated in south-central Pennsylvania and Maryland hospitals.

"We have a multitude of hospital and nonhospital locations throughout our ... network that we can leverage for different types of clinical needs," Marcocci said via email.

Ann Elliott, R.N., left, and clinical operations coordinator and patient safety officer Jennifer Strayer work together at the drive up COVID-19 coronavirus testing site at WellSpan Family Medicine - Cape Horn in Windsor Township, Tuesday, March 17, 2020. Candidates must be directed to the facility for testing by a physician prior to arrival. Dawn J. Sagert photo

York County recorded its 67th death linked to COVID-19 on Thursday, while 34 new cases pushed the total to 1,942 since the outbreak began, the state Health Department reported.

Statewide, the case total hit 98,446, an increase of 781 over the day prior. There were also 16 new deaths. The death toll now stands at 6,973.

There have been 885,195 patients in the state who have tested negative for COVID-19, 27,632 of whom reside in York County.

On Wednesday, Wolf announced new guidelines for bars and restaurants that limit capacity to 25%.

Additionally, nightclubs will be forced to temporary close and bars will be required to shut down unless they also offer dine-in meals.

As of Thursday morning, there were more than 13.5 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus worldwide, with 585,500 deaths linked to the virus, according to Johns Hopkins University.

— Reach Tina Locurto at tlocurto@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @tina_locurto.