COVID-19 case confirmed in county, March 26

The first confirmed positive case of COVID-19 in Susquehanna County was announced on Thursday, March 26, as the number of cases statewide rose to 1,687 that day.

As of the Monday, March 30 update, the county remained with the one confirmed case, while confirmed cases in the state were reported in 59 counties and totaled 4,097.

PA Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said the notable increase of cases in the days prior indicated that everyone needs to take COVID-19 seriously. “Pennsylvanians have a very serious job right now: stay calm, stay home, and stay safe. We have seen case counts continue to increase and the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to stay home,” cautioned Dr. Levine last week.

This past Monday, Dr. Levine offered: “The continued rise in cases combined with our increasing deaths from COVID-19 reflects the seriousness of this situation,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “We need everyone to listen to the orders in place and to stay calm, stay home and stay safe. We know that these prolonged mitigation effects have been difficult for everyone, but it is essential that everyone follows these orders and does not go out unless they absolutely must.”

After receiving notification of the positive result in the county, the commissioners issued a release encouraging residents to follow the recommendations set in place by the state, Dept. of Health, Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the federal government.

While Dr. Levine called on residents to “…stay home…,” the statement from the commissioners called for social distancing and “decreasing unnecessary travel.”

The announcement of the first positive case came one day after the commissioners’ March 25 meeting, where Director of Public Safety Bruce Butler provided an update of the crisis, as well as a timeline of the county’s response since becoming situationally aware of the potential impact of the novel coronavirus, to a Level 3: enhanced watch. Butler said the Dept. of Public Safety staff had been placed in protective isolation.

Butler also noted that all county offices effectively closed to the public beginning on Monday, March 23, and the courthouse departments are open by appointment only. And while access to the courthouse is restrictedThe  county employees continue to report to their offices each day.

A number of municipalities had already issued state of emergency declarations, Butler said last week.

Valerie Senese, of Oakland Borough, told the commissioners she was hearing that some people in her community were having trouble accessing available food pantries.

Following a meeting held Thursday to identify local resources available, the county issued a release noting that people should call 211 or visit the county website in order to view list of food pantry locations in the county. (The listing is available on Page 4 of this paper.)

In other business at the Wednesday, March 25, county commissioner meeting:

The commissioners approved a comprehensive health services agreement with Correctional Care of Moosic for telemedicine services at the Susquehanna County Correctional Facility.

The commissioners also approved a contract with Telemedicine Inc. of Exton to provide access to medical evaluation and treatment through SwiftMD telemedicine, at a cost of $4 per month for enrolled employees to be paid by the county, effective April 1.

The commissioners entered an agreement for the sale and purchase of an agricultural easement in on property in Lenox Twp. for $128,501.

The commissioners also approved funding for True Friends Animal Welfare Center allocating $50,000 per county code allowing for appropriations to societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals.

Tick Borne Diseases Task Force members were appointed for a one-year term.

With the pending retirement of Director of Planning Robert Templeton, the department has been reorganized with James Kane moving from the Deputy Director position to take on the role of Director of Planning/GIS; and Kiana Lavery from the post of GIS technician to the Deputy Planning Director/GIS spot; and Carol Ainey moving to an administrative assistant position for the Dept. of Planning/GIS/Public Safety.

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