Senator Laughlin Urges Action as Erie Records First COVID-19 Case

With reports that Erie has confirmed its first positive COVID-19 case, Senator Dan Laughlin again called on state officials to step up efforts to prepare for the burden that could be placed upon local health care facilities.

As the region learned that a 35 year-old Erie County resident has reportedly tested positive for the virus, Senator Laughlin called on state Health Secretary Rachel Levine and PEMA Director Randy Padfield to take steps now to address the burden that the infection could place on health care agencies.

“This is a war against an aggressive virus that could overwhelm us and I want you both to take extreme actions to protect our citizens, no matter the cost. Our elderly and immune compromised population is at extreme risk, and simply monitoring the situation is not enough,” Senator Laughlin said in a letter to the officials.

“We as a state, and specifically the two agencies that are under your direct supervision need to get ahead of this,” he continued.  “I cannot stress this enough. In speaking with the directors of our two largest hospitals, combined we only have at best 800 empty beds, and not all of those are ventilator beds.”

In his letter, Senator Laughlin specifically called for the deployment of the state’s mobile hospitals and the placement of testing facilities in locations away from hospitals, such a buildings that are currently vacant.

“I think these measures will greatly reduce infecting the people of the Commonwealth,” Senator Laughlin said. “The other beneficial effect of setting up these portable hospitals is it will send a definitive message to the portion of the population that still thinks this is not serious. Now is the time for Pennsylvania to be a leader and show the rest of the country what it looks like to work together and use innovation to overcome crisis.”

As Erie joins the rest of the Commonwealth in addressing COVID-19, Senator Laughlin again urged citizens to practice social distancing and to take steps to protect themselves.

“Above all, I urge everyone to remain calm and to wash their hands, avoid unnecessary contact and to avoid crowd gatherings,” he said. “We must work together as we adapt to this ever-changing situation. And, especially we must keep the safety and well-being of our families and neighbors foremost on our minds.”

Earlier today, the Senate took an important step to continue its operations safely by passing a measure allowing its members to vote remotely. The temporary emergency rules included in Senate Resolution 318 will ensure the Senate can continue voting even when Senators cannot be physically present at the Capitol Building in Harrisburg due to coronavirus mitigation efforts that are ongoing statewide.

The Resolution creates a mechanism for members to file bills electronically and to participate in committee meetings and session through the use of communications technology. The emergency powers are scheduled to expire July 31, 2020 or 10 days following the expiration of the governor’s emergency order, whichever is sooner.

In order to ensure transparency, session was announced well in advance and streamed live for the public at

Contact:           Matt Azeles          (717) 787-8927   

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