Dr. Elizabeth Piccione

Dr. Elizabeth Piccione, vice president of medical affairs for UPMC Jameson in New Castle.

Three local hospitals of UPMC in Lawrence and Mercer counties have the capability of testing and treating patients with COVID-19 symptoms, according to medical personnel.

UPMC doctors and administrators gave a scenario of the preparedness of UPMC Jameson Hospital, UPMC Horizon Hospital and UPMC Horizon in Greenville, during a press conference call Thursday about the spreading coronavirus.

Dr. Elizabeth Piccione, vice president of medical affairs for UPMC Jameson, assured that the three hospitals are testing patients by collecting samples and taking them to a testing site in Pittsburgh. And while there are two different categories of testing — symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals — "nobody now without symptoms has an absolute need to be tested," she said.

Those being tested are exhibiting symptoms such as new shortness of breath, new cough and new fever, said Piccione, who is the vice president of medical affairs at Jameson.

The state Department of Health on Thursday confirmed three new cases of coronavirus, bringing the Lawrence County total to 16 so far. Mercer County has nine confirmed cases. Just over the Ohio border, neighboring Mahoning County had 197 cases confirmed so far with 11 deaths, and Trumbull, 63 cases with six deaths, according to an Ohio Department of Health report.

Piccione also assured that within the entire UPMC system, it has an adequate number of ventilators should a more widespread outbreak occur.

Dana Piatek, manager of Infection Prevention for UPMC Horizon and UPMC Jameson, emphasized, "This is a new virus and things can change. Staying on top of social distancing and remaining at home is the best option you can have.

"The statewide stay-home order goes back to flattening the curve. We've started to see that. That is the best step you can do," she advised.

"We don't know who is carrying the virus, so everyone has to be considered a potential source for it," said Sam Daisley, D.O., vice president of Medical Affairs at UPMC Horizon.



Debbie's been a journalist at the New Castle News since 1978, and covers county government, police and fire, New Castle schools, environment and various other realms. She also writes features, takes photos and video and copy edits.

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