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DoH: 57% recovered from virus

Nursing homes to receive funds

HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Wolf said Friday he is easing some pandemic restrictions in Philadelphia and the heavily populated suburbs on June 5, while lifting them almost entirely in 17 rural counties next week as Pennsylvania continues to emerge from a shutdown imposed nearly two months ago to help slow the spread of the new virus.

Wolf is accelerating his reopening plan even though more than 20 Pennsylvania counties remain above the state’s target for new infections that were supposed to qualify them for an easing of pandemic restrictions — and eight counties are more than three times over.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health on Friday reported 115 additional deaths linked to COVID-19, raising the statewide total to 4,984.

State health officials also reported that 866 more people have tested positive for the new coronavirus. The state has recorded fewer than 1,000 new cases for 12 consecutive days.

Since early March, infections have been confirmed in more than 66,000 people in Pennsylvania.

For the first time, health officials reported Friday that 57% of the people who have tested positive for the virus are considered to be fully recovered.

Testing wrinkle

The Pennsylvania Department of Health says people who have tested positive for coronavirus antibodies — and who also had symptoms of COVID-19 or a high-risk exposure to the virus — are being added to the state’s running tally of infections.

Unlike tests for active infections, antibody tests are blood tests that can detect whether someone was infected at some point in the past. Positive antibody tests represent 481 cases, or less than 1 percent, of the state’s overall tally of more than 66,000 infections, according to the health secretary, Dr. Rachel Levine.

Pennsylvania splits its virus tally into cases that are confirmed by virus testing and probable cases. Positive antibody tests are considered probable cases. Health authorities say they do not count probable cases for the purpose of deciding when a county is ready to emerge from pandemic restrictions.

Some evictions allowed

The Wolf administration is loosening its ban on foreclosures and evictions.

A tenant who damages property, breaks the law or breaches the lease in some other way can now be evicted under a modified executive order issued by Wolf on Friday.

The temporary ban still applies to evictions and foreclosures for nonpayment or because a tenant has overstayed a lease. The moratorium is scheduled to last until July 10.

Nursing home funding

The federal government on Friday began distributing $238 million in emergency aid to Pennsylvania nursing homes that have been hit especially hard by the virus.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said it is making payments to 587 nursing homes. Each nursing home will get a fixed payment of $50,000, plus $2,500 per bed. The money can be used to pay staff, boost testing capacity, acquire protective equipment and for other expenses associated with the pandemic.

Nursing homes have seen declining patient populations and increased costs as they struggle to contain the virus. Long-term care residents account for about two-thirds of the statewide death toll of nearly 5,000, a higher proportion than in most other states.

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