Pressure Mounts on Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf as Even Democrats Now Question Coronavirus Shutdown

Pennsylvania Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf speaks with members of the media and after receiving the Service Employees International Union's endorsement Friday, June 6, 2014, in Philadelphia. Wolf is challenging Republican incumbent Gov. Tom Corbett in Nov. 4th general election. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
AP/Matt Rourke

Pressure is increasing on Gov. Tom Wolf (D) to reopen Pennsylvania, even among Democrats, as it is revealed that the vast majority of recent coronavirus deaths in the state occurred at nursing homes or personal care facilities, the Morning Call revealed this week.

Roughly 80 percent of the recently reported deaths in the state of Pennsylvania, 247 out of the 310 reported on Thursday, occurred at either a nursing home or personal care facility.

“There is no excuse for what is going on, okay?” Chester County State Sen. Andrew Dinniman, a Democrat, stated, contending that the Department of Health has failed the most vulnerable — those in nursing homes.

“A total of 3,416 coronavirus deaths has been reported statewide through Thursday. Of those, 2,355, or nearly 69 percent, were associated with nursing or personal care homes,” the outlet reported:

In the Lehigh Valley, the state reported 177 deaths in such facilities, with 77 in Lehigh County and 100 in Northampton County.

This week, the nursing homes operated by Lehigh and Northampton counties, Cedarbrook and Gracedale, both reported sharp increases in deaths.

Over the past seven days, about 76% of deaths added to the state’s total — 850 of the 1,124 newly reported deaths — were at personal care homes or nursing homes.

The statewide death toll has risen to 3,616 as of Saturday morning as the majority of healthy, low-risk individuals remain under stringent lockdown orders.

On Friday, Gov. Tom Wolf (D) announced 13 counties that will be allowed to move into the “yellow” phase of reopening next week — a phase that continues to come with a host of restrictions. Twenty-four Pennsylvania counties moved into that phase on Friday. However, some local leaders of counties in “red” phase states are outraged over the governor’s decision.

Dan Camp, commissioner chairman of Pennsylvania’s Beaver County, said on Friday that the governor’s decision to keep the county in the “red” phase is  “unwarranted and irrational,” noting that the vast majority of the county’s coronavirus-related deaths stemmed from nursing homes.

“It’s no secret that nearly 70 percent of our COVID-19 cases and more than 90 percent of Beaver County’s COVID-19 related deaths are attributed to one nursing home within the county,” he said, essentially corroborating the greater findings.

On Wednesday, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s (UPMC) chief medical officer, Dr. Steven Shapiro, also called for the state to reopen, noting that in Pennsylvania, the median age of death from the virus is 84.

“The few younger patients who died all had significant preexisting conditions. Very few children were infected and none died. Minorities in our communities fared equally as well as others, but we know that this is not the case nationally,” Shapiro said during a roundtable discussion with Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA).

“In sum, this is a disease of the elderly, sick and poor,” he added.

The news coincides with a recent analysis of a provisional data set published by the Centers for Disease Control’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), which found that the average age of Americans who have died as a result of the coronavirus between February 1 and May 2 is 75.

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