By Stephanie Stahl


PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Testing for the coronavirus will quickly be ramping up and be available to a lot more people in Philadelphia and Montgomery County as health officials have identified at least two clusters in Montgomery County. Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine says there is now a big focus on three fronts: widespread testing for anyone who wants it, getting adequate medical supplies and making arrangements for a surge capacity of patients, and for that, they’re waiving regulations covering hospital beds.

“We’re discussing with them where they might be able to add beds, how to add ICU beds and then, in particular, the equipment we have been discussing,” Levine said. “So all those conversations are happening as we speak, as we prepare.”

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Levine said in a one-on-one interview with CBS3 that hospitals will be allowed to expand their bed capacity for COVID-19 patients, if necessary, and that considerations are being made for temporary medical treatment facilities.

She said medical supplies and personal protective equipment for hospital staffs are running thin everywhere, but plans are underway to get more.

She also revealed that clusters have been identified in Montgomery County. Levine was asked specifically about the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia cardiologist who had contact with patients and families at the King of Prussia facility and the police officer in Lower Providence who presumably had contacts in the community.

“I think you have correct data but I’m not really gonna go into more detail for patient confidentiality, but I think you understand the situation quite well,” Levine said.

Both the doctor and police officer did not have symptoms when they were working and interacting with people. Everyone who had contact with them has been contacted by health officials and it appears several then tested positive.

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Clusters of the virus are mainly associated with people who’ve been in close contact, like in families or the workplace, but we know that the virus is now also spreading in the community.

Montgomery County is dealing with 42 coronavirus cases.

Stephanie Stahl