Salisbury Press

Saturday, June 6, 2020

COVID-19: St. Luke’s official says community spread in LV, Poconos

Sunday, March 29, 2020 by The Press in Focus

Community spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) has reached the Lehigh Valley and Poconos, St. Luke’s University Health Network infectious disease specialists have confirmed.

The definition of community spread is that the virus is being transmitted among members of a community in the community.

Because of this, St. Luke’s University Health Network is urging the public to shelter at home. “Stay home to stop the spread” is the motto.

St. Luke’s issued the information March 25 when Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf ordered “stay-at-home” for Lehigh and Northampton county residents, with limited exceptions.

“We’ve been tracking the number of cases,” said St. Luke’s infectious disease specialist Jeffrey Jahre, MD, Senior Vice President of Medical Affairs.

“Community spread indicates that the region will experience a rapid surge of cases in the next few weeks,” Jahre said.

The surge is expected to tax the region’s health-care resources, according to St. Luke’s.

“It is critical that the public heads the advice to stay home,” Jahre said.

“We all can do our part to stop the spread. Most important right now is to stay home unless you are providing ‘life-sustaining’ services,” continued Jahre.

“Our health-care workers, our grocery-store employees, people in distribution -- they can protect themselves by practicing good hygiene and social distancing when possible,” Jahre said.

Valid reasons to leave home include obtaining groceries or pharmaceuticals, medical visits or checking on a relative when there is no other means to do so.

It is important to keep regularly-scheduled medical appointments.

“Our patients still have regular health needs,” said Jahre. “Not everything is COVID-19 related, and many visits are now being conducted over the phone or computer.”

St. Luke’s is offering telehealth virtual visits for individuals who need to receive care. Call your family physician for details or call St. Luke’s InfoLink at 1-866-STLUKES (785-8537).

Information on COVID-19 pandemic: www.sluhn.org/covid-19.