Area leaders and health system representatives converged at a summit in Wilkes-Barre this past week to discuss the COVID-19 crisis and the potential for an outbreak in our area. The healthcare nonprofit All-One Foundation hosted the summit. In attendance at the summit was state senator John Yudichak, who said he was confident the area would be prepared for a potential outbreak of COVID 19.
"We are prepared here in Northeastern Pennsylvania, the department of health was on the line, secretary Dr. Levine, daily briefings to the county to area legislators we want to make sure the healthcare providers in our cities are looped in. This gathering is very important to do that, because what you want to have is clear directive protocols. We want no uncertainty. Fear is our biggest challenge. We want to make sure that as folks are getting information from all kinds of sources that may not be accurate, we want to make sure they have accurate information. Information is power in these kind of pandemics, we want to make sure they have the right information so they can protect themselves and their family."
Yudichak says there are resources in place for people who may have questions on the coronavirus.
"Go to the department of health website to get updates everyday on how we are battling this disease and this outbreak, get fact sheets so that [you] have accurate information. Always communicate with your own personal physician to make sure that you're doing all the right things. There are some basic precautions and you heard it today - common sense - wash your hands everyday, do it the right way, make sure your children are doing it. Be responsive - avoid large gatherings to make sure that we're not spreading this disease or aiding in it's spread."
John P. Moses, Esq, chairman of the board of the AllOne Foundation says he's encouraged by the summit discussion.
"After today's summit, I'm very confident. I think that the people of Northeastern Pennsylvania can feel prepared without panic. I think it's obvious that all of the healthcare providers have been in constant communication with the commonwealth health department, that they have been working with each other in order to ensure that if the pandemic hits in a more substantial way that they would be prepared. In addition to that, it was especially enlightening to see that the municipalities have taken very substantial steps in preparing. The first responders spoke in the meeting today and I thought that was very important - we have to keep them healthy or we're in a real jam. And the mayors of all the cities that came, I appreciate them giving their time and effort, and it was obvious that they are on top of this. I was especially enlightened by the program that mayor George Brown and the city of Wilkes Barre has with the school district, where he was going into the schools and teaching the kids through a play how to maintain their health and safety during these difficult times. I thought it was a very productive summit, I'm glad that we as a foundation honor our mission in this way. We may or may not meet again in order to see where we are, it depends on what happens during this crisis."
Symptoms of the coronavirus include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Information is available on the PA Department of Health website, or by calling 1-877-PA HEALTH.
In response to the coronavirus, VIA public media will present a live TV special – Keystone Edition: Corona Crisis – Thursday March 26th at 8pm on VIA TV.