COVID-19 Update, April 3: Pa. death toll climbs past 100, more than 8K positive tests

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times

Pennsylvania passed a solemn benchmark, marking the 100th death in the state from COVID-19, as positive test results jumped 1,404 to a total of 8,420 statewide.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) reported 12 new deaths Thursday — bringing the state total of fatalities to 102.

“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.”

53,695 have tested negative statewide so far, DOH said.

Locally, numbers rose by 16 to 223, the Chester County Health Department. Negative tests rose to 1,854.

As the toll of the stay at home order — and resulting financial and personal stressors — the state is moving to provide enhancing counseling and support services.

The Department of Human Services (DHS) announced Friday the launch of a statewide Support & Referral Helpline staffed by skilled and compassionate caseworkers who will be available 24/7 to counsel Pennsylvanians struggling with anxiety and other challenging emotions due to the COVID-19 emergency and refer them to community-based resources that can further help to meet individual needs. 

“Pennsylvanians will overcome this crisis together by following the guidance of public-health professionals who advise social-distancing to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus, but physical isolation does not mean social isolation,” said DHS Secretary Teresa Miller. “We must support people where they are during this time of crisis.”

The toll-free, round-the-clock support line is officially operational. The number to call is 1-855-284-2494. For TTY, dial 724-631-5600.

The State Police continued enforcement of Gov. Tom Wolf’s order to shut down all “non life-sustaining” businesses. State Police issued a total of 27 warnings statewide. No summons have been issued as yet.

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