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Source: Geisinger.edu

Danville, Pa. – Geisinger confirmed their first case of pediatric inflammatory disease at the Danville Children’s Hospital.

In a conference call on Friday with Dr. Jaewon Ryu, chief executive officer and president of Geisinger, he said they are “monitoring very closely” for these types of cases, which have made headlines recently with confirmed cases in New Jersey and New York. Many children who have had the multisymptom inflammatory syndrome had the virus that causes COVID-19 or have been around someone with COVID-19. Symptoms resemble Kawasaki Disease, Ryu said.

The number of COVID-19 positive cases at Geisinger have been gradually decreasing, Ryu said. So far, Geisinger has tested a total of 20,000 patients across their campuses. Fourteen percent have come back positive, which has remained a consistent figure.

Seventeen percent have required hospitalization. “The number that’s actively in our hospitals of COVID-19 patients continues to trend lower,” Ryu said.  As of Friday morning, the number of COVID-19 patients in Geisinger hospitals were “in the low 60s,” he noted. Many of those patients were being discharged.

Ryu attributed the lower COVID-19 numbers to preventative measures such as social distancing, masking, hand washing, and sanitization.

As segments of society start to reopen, Ryu emphasized that masking will still be a part of our lives. It is important to continue to practice all the preventative measures, including staying home when you can, he said.

Geisinger has also developed a tool kit for businesses, as they begin to reopen. The tool kit includes information on how to manage traffic flow in facilities, staggering shifts and lunch breaks, sanitization, and more.

The health system also is starting to phase in elective procedures and non-emergent services. A few weeks ago, 17 out of 31 operating rooms at the Danville campus opened. This week, a total of 25 operating rooms in Danville will be open, Ryu said.

Regarding vaccines, Ryu said a number of them are being developed. He believes there will be at least one if not more that will be safe to use, but it's too soon to tell when a vaccine will be ready for public use. “Hopefully by the end of the year, if not early next year,” Ryu said.

Geisinger has received shipments of Remdesivir, a drug that could have some benefit to COVID-19 patients. “There is some reassuring evidence that some might recover faster or have shorter hospital stays,” Ryu said.

At this point, antibody testing is now accurate enough to use, Ryu said. The test can tell you if you have been exposed or not to the COVID-19 virus. However, the test cannot tell you if you have the right antibodies or enough to bring immunity. Ryu feels this will continue to evolve.