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2020 News

Commissioners Support Continued Distancing, Masking Directives

April 16, 2020

Contact: Larry R. King, 215-348-6413, lrking@buckscounty.org

Despite signs that the spread of COVID-19 among the general public is starting to decline, the Bucks County Commissioners today stressed the importance of continuing the stringent social distancing measures laid out by Gov. Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine.

“We feel like there has been a little bit of a plateau in terms of the cases that we have been seeing, so we are seeing a glimmer of hope,” Commissioner Bob Harvie said during a virtual news conference this morning, streamed live on the county’s Facebook page. “We’re only probably at halftime right now; it’s not the end of the game … So let’s all be very conscious of the fact that we have to keep social distancing.”Harvie zoom

Commissioners’ Chair Diane M. Ellis-Marseglia urged the public to “hold tight” despite rumblings from people who are growing impatient with the restrictions.

And Commissioner Gene DiGirolamo said that “staying home and not going out unless you absolutely have to … is the most important thing we can do right now.”

The commissioners also expressed dismay over the rising number of deaths among elderly people, especially those in long-term care facilities, where close to half of Bucks County’s COVID-19 victims have resided.

“They are certainly our most vulnerable population, and their families have experienced great anxiety and grief as well,” Marseglia said, adding that her mother has lived at the county’s Neshaminy Manor nursing home for several years and can no longer communicate with her.

“So I can’t console my mother, and I know that it is probably difficult for many of you who can speak to your loved one; they are feeling anxiety and you can’t be there to console them,” she said. “I’m sorry you have to go through that … but I know in my heart that my mother is being cared for, as are your loved ones.”Marseglia zoom

The Bucks County Department of Health today reported the deaths of seven more residents who had COVID-19. Six were elderly, ranging in age from 94 to 70, five of whom lived at long-term care facilities. The seventh was a 51-year-old man with underlying health conditions. 

A total of 67 Bucks County residents with COVID-19 have died.

County Health Director Dr. David Damsker reported 96 new cases of coronavirus today, bringing the total to 1,546. Seventy of the new cases were from long-term care facilities, where testing has been increased in recent days.

While the overall number of cases detected outside of nursing home continues to drop, Damsker said, the death rate will likely continue to rise significantly over the next few days because of the large number of cases in long-term care facilities.

“These are the most fragile patients you can have in our society,” Damsker said. “Once it’s in these facilities, it’s difficult to stop it. We’re doing our best … but there will continue to be deaths because of the population.”

The continuing decline of new cases among the general public, Damsker said, shows the effectiveness of social distancing measures, and the fact that people are taking them to heart.

“I don’t think people are getting complacent,” he said in response to a reporter’s question. “I think people are getting used to the idea of social distancing and wearing masks in public. I think people are taking it very seriously, more so than a month ago, and I think we want to continue to encourage those things.”

Harvie said that officials in the five-county Philadelphia region have talked daily about forming a plan for reopening the region once the threat recedes sufficiently. He said officials in Philadelphia have begun drawing up an outline for what he called “a regional approach to opening up Southeast Pennsylvania,” but that there is no set date for having a plan in place.Zoom conf

In the meantime, Bucks County officials are helping to coordinate the delivery of 10,000 meals per day to needy children, elderly residents, adults living in poverty and those who are out of work during the coronavirus crisis, said Emergency Services Director Scott T. Forster.

Civilian volunteers have been enlisted to help retrieve food supplies from Philadelphia and bring it to distribution points in Bucks, where volunteers help package, box and deliver the meals.

DiGirolamo and Marseglia encouraged people with alcohol or drug addictions to continue to seek treatment during the COVID-19 crisis. DiGirolamo said people who are struggling with detoxing or other issues can call the Bucks County Drug and Alcohol Commission, Inc., at 215-444-2700 for help and advice.

The commissioners also announced that county park trails and parking lots would reopen for public use on Monday, but that facilities at the parks – restrooms, pavilions, playgrounds, boat rentals and other amenities – would remain closed. Marseglia urged people who have yards or other venues for exercise to avoid the parks to help prevent crowding.

Statewide, 60 more Pennsylvania deaths were reported today, bringing the statewide total to 707. A total of 27,735 COVID-19 cases have occurred across the state, including 1,245 new cases announced today.

More than half of the state’s deaths – 365 – have been among residents of nursing homes or personal care facilities: https://tinyurl.com/rnj5vot

A total of 122 Bucks County coronavirus patients are hospitalized, 24 of them in critical condition and on ventilators. Three hundred seventeen are confirmed to have recovered.

Statistics, charts and other coronavirus-related information can be found on the county’s data portal: https://covid19-bucksgis.hub.arcgis.com/