By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — With COVID-19 cases reaching new record highs, some local hospitals are being impacted. The situation in Delaware County is especially serious with the health care system being overwhelmed due to the coronavirus.

Spiking COVID-19 numbers in Delaware County have forced hospitals to divert patients. There’s also a growing problem with first responders and essential workers being infected with the virus and not being able to work. The community spread is blamed on small gatherings.

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“This is an extremely concerning circumstance,” Delaware County Councilmember Brian Zidek said.

Hospitals in Delaware County can’t handle the flood of COVID-19 patients, partly because so many frontline workers are infected themselves.

Delaware County councilmembers are hoping to keep schools open and avoid a lockdown, sending an urgent appeal to residents to do better with COVID-19 precautions.

“It’s frustrating to watch responsible business owners and schools follow best practices and work to ensure that they’re doing everything they can to protect the community and stay open,” Zidek said, “and then see some members of the community blatantly not regarding the public health guidance. The result is that we’re now seeing an alarming high spike in cases.”

Many of the overflow patients from Delaware County are being treated at Main Line Health hospitals.

“We are still very much able to handle our increasing numbers, but we are preparing for more,” Dr. Jonathan Stallkamp said.

Lankenau Medical Center and Bryn Mawr Hospital now have tents set up outside their emergency departments. They’re not in use yet, but it’s a sign of an expected surge. Extra precautions are also in place to prevent the virus from spreading.

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“Coming into our emergency room, you are separated from everybody,” Stallkamp said.

“I can’t predict the future of what mitigation orders might be necessary at some future date,” Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said.

Pennsylvania recorded another record-breaking day of daily COVID-19 infections on Thursday. State officials are resisting pressure to impose new restrictions. Levine says people aren’t as sick as they were in the spring and that hospitals are also better prepared and not as challenged.

“What we want to do is to double down on mitigation orders we do have in place,” Levine said. “We have a universal masking order in place. We have decreased capacity to 50% for indoor dining for restaurants, and we have limitations on large gatherings.”

Levine said the state is monitoring a number of factors in determining when and if any additional restrictions are needed. She also said local districts have the ability to implement their own mitigation measures if necessary. The hope is to have targeted restrictions where they’re needed.


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Stephanie Stahl