What to Know
- Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf said Wednesday that he has tested positive for COVID-19.
- Wolf, a Democrat, said he is asymptomatic and is isolating at home per state health and CDC guidelines. He remains on the job from home.
- Pennsylvania, like the rest of the United States, is seeing a record surge of new COVID-19 cases fueled by the colder weather and people disregarding warnings about gatherings for the Thanksgiving holiday.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has tested positive for the coronavirus, he said on Wednesday.
In a series of tweets, Wolf said his COVID-19 positive diagnosis came Tuesday after a routine test. He does not currently have any symptoms.
Wolf, a Democrat, said he is isolating at home. Pennsylvania First Lady Frances Wolf is awaiting test results and is quarantining at home.
“I am continuing to serve the commonwealth and performing all of my duties remotely, as many are doing during the pandemic," Wolf said in a subsequent news release from his office.
“As this virus rages, my positive test is a reminder that no one is immune from COVID, that following all precautions as I have done is not a guarantee, but it is what we know to be vital to stopping the spread of the disease and so I ask all Pennsylvanians to wear a mask, stay home as much as possible, socially distance yourself from those not in your household, and, most of all, take care of each other and stay safe.”
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Wolf appeared publicly on Monday alongside state health secretary Dr. Rachel Levine at a news conference discussing Pennsylvania's record surge of new COVID-19 cases.
The positivity rate for COVID-19 tests conducted in Pennsylvania is above 14%, quadruple the number it dipped to in the summer months. Nine counties (Mifflin, Potter, Bedford, Montour, Juniata, Somerset, Tioga, Franklin, and Lawrence) have rates above 20%, meaning 1 in every 5 people tested are positive for coronavirus.
Average daily hospitalizations and patients on ventilators are up 1,000 and 100, respectively.
And 66 of 67 counties are in the "substantial level of community transmission" for the week ending Dec. 3.
Meanwhile, despite rising infections and hospitals "approaching" capacity, according to the state, Pennsylvanians are going to barbershops, salons, bars and gyms more.
In Philadelphia, the city's health commissioner said the most recent surge in cases is attributed to people who disregarded warnings about gathering for the Thanksgiving holiday.
Dr. Thomas Farley provided an anecdote Tuesday about one woman who had symptoms, but still attended a family gathering. She infected seven others.
"She gathered with 10 family members on Thanksgiving anyway, then after Thanksgiving she went and got tested and she tested positive. Shortly thereafter, her family members started developing symptoms and at this point, at least seven others at that gathering already tested positive," Farley said.
Wolf's diagnosis comes a day before the FDA is expected to approve the first COVID-19 vaccine for use. The vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech has already been approved by Canada and the United Kingdom, which began immunizing citizens on Tuesday.
Farley said Philadelphia could begin the first round of vaccinations by next week. The Pfizer vaccine must be delivered in two doses spaced out by just about a month. Still, its expected take until summer 2021 before enough Americans are vaccinated to relax safety measures like face mask wearing and social distancing, experts said.