COVID-19 update: New hotline announced, hospital workers thanked with Girl Scout cookies

Milford. U.S. Representative Matt Cartwright (PA-08) was in self-quarantine Thursday as he announced a 570-341-1050 coronavirus hotline for constituents seeking help from the federal government. Wayne Memorial Hospital’s Emergency Department staff received a wagonload of Girl Scout cookies to share with other hospital units in appreciation for combating the novel coronavirus. The hospital also announced limits to access and some services. The Orange County, N.Y., executive asks the governor for a containment zone.

20 Mar 2020 | 10:09

Friday, March 20

Congressman announces hotline

On a video press conference call on Thursday, U.S. Representative Matt Cartwright (PA-08) said his Scranton district office phone line, 570-341-1050, will be open as a coronavirus hotline for constituents seeking help from the federal government.

Residents of the 8th Congressional District residents can call from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday, for assistance on matters such federal small business loans, unemployment benefits, food assistance, and other programs.

He is in quarantine after interacting with a family friend who later tested positive for COVID-19. He also discussed the ongoing federal response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“So far, Congress has passed two major relief bills to protect Americans’ health and financial well-being during this ongoing public health crisis," Cartwright said. "These were important steps, but we need to follow through and make sure people know how to access the resources we’re providing."

As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, he worked with his Democratic and Republican colleagues to enact an $8.3 billion emergency funding package to bolster the nation’s health care response and assist small businesses in the midst of this pandemic.

The newly enacted Families First Coronavirus Response Act will expand benefits and services for workers, families, and seniors. Work in Congress on a third relief bill is already underway to those being hit hardest by the pandemic and the economic fallout, he said.

Girl Scout cookies donated to healthcare workers

Wayne Memorial Hospital’s Emergency Department staff received a wagonload of Girl Scout cookies to share with other hospital units in appreciation for combating the novel coronavirus.

The sweet gesture, along with a sincere thank you, were delivered by Faith Wood, an eight-year-old Girl Scout from Troop 50261 of Lake Ariel.

“This was so nice and a treat our staff will certainly enjoy,” stated Michele Churney, MSN, RN, manager, outpatient services, Wayne Memorial Hospital. Faith’s grandmother, Robin Edwards, is the troop’s official cookie liaison.

Since door to door and cookie booth sales were prohibited due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the pair found a way to support the Girl Scouts and give back to healthcare workers on the frontlines of the pandemic. Through a social media post friends and family members were asked to sponsor boxes of cookies to be delivered to hospital employees.

Edwards said the response was amazing. She expected to be dropping off a case or two of cookies. Faith was excited to bring six cases to the emergency department staff.

“We appreciate all you are doing and know that this time is extra stressful for hospitals around the world,” said Edwards. “We hope this brings you some joy and that you are able to stop, enjoy a snack and have a moment to relax.”

Wayne Memorial limits access, some services

While there are still no patients with a positive COVID-19 diagnosis at Wayne Memorial Hospital as of March 20, the hospital is increasing security measures to protect patients, visitors, and staff.

As of 4 p.m. Friday, March 20, only the main entrance and the emergency department doors will be open. The first floor pedestrian concourse will be closed, as will doors to the third floor. The second-floor garage doorway will have doorbell-access only weekdays, up until 3:00 pm. After that, the two main doors must be utilized.

All elective, non-urgent, surgeries are being cancelled, and none are scheduled for the immediate future.

To reduce the risk of infection for some of the hospital’s most vulnerable outpatients, the following services will be closed and appointments rescheduled: pulmonary rehabilitation, cardiac rehabilitation, pulmonary function testing, the sleep laboratory, nutrition counseling, and audiology.

Other services at the hospital itself are still operating as usual, including laboratory (blood work), imaging services, wound care, infusion/chemotherapy, home health, medical records and billing. Patients who have respiratory symptoms will be asked to wear a mask. Off-site services are still open, but patients are asked to call ahead (570-253-8620) to be sure as changes may take place in the coming weeks.

Report price gouging

Attorney General Josh Shapiro has recently alerted Pennsylvania consumers and businesses about price gouging protections under Governor Wolf's COVID-19 disaster declaration for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

In addition, the Office of Attorney General has created a specialized resource, pricegouging@attorneygeneral.gov, for consumers to email and report malfeasance.

"Price gouging isn't only wrong, it is illegal," said PA Rep. Rosemary Brown. "Should you witness any price gouging in our area, submit a complaint using the resource email listed above."

Orange County executive requests containment zone

In a Facebook Live session on Thursday evening, Orange County, N.Y., Executive Steve Neuhaus said he has asked the governor "to consider creating a containment zone in the town of Palm Tree, KJ area, which will facilitate extra resources, including a testing area there to try to put a lid on the spread of this virus."

Neuhaus said he came to this decision after listening to a doctor who "treats that community."

The doctor, Vladimir Zelenko, M.D., of Monroe, said in a You Tube video on March 18 that nine out of 14 Kiryas Joel residents have tested positive for COVID-19, and that he expects up to 90 percent to be infected with the virus within a few days.

"That's around 35,000 people in a one square mile area," he said. Of that number, he said, 1,000 are "seriously vulnerable to that virus."

That is an extraordinary claim. As of Friday, there were 19,101 confirmed cases in all of the United States, about half the number Dr. Zelenko predicts for KJ.

Neuhaus said local hospitals are worried about a spike of coronavirus emergencies in one area.

"That's why it's critical that the government creates a containment area, so that we can try to stop the spread of that," he said.

There are now 7,102 cases of coronavirus confirmed in New York State, with 84 in Orange County. It was only eight days ago that New York was reporting 217 cases and Orange County one case. Part of this surge can be explained by more testing. Testing is free for all eligible New Yorkers as ordered by a health care provider.

The director of the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Francis Collins, said on Friday that up to 70,000 cases of coronavirus could be confirmed in the United States by the end of next week.

Tax day delayed

On Friday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Tax Day is being moved from April 15 to July 15. "All taxpayers and businesses will have this additional time to file and make payments without interest or penalties," he said in a tweet.

Tristate tallies:
Here follows the number of positive cases in the tristate area and beyond as of March 20:
New York State: 7,102
Orange County, N.Y: 84
Sullivan County, N.Y. 8
Pennsylvania: 268
Pike County, Pa.: 2
Wayne County, Pa.: 1
Monroe County, Pa.: 19
New Jersey: 890
USA: 19,101