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St. Luke’s: COVID-19 Community Spread in Lehigh Valley and Poconos
March 25, 2020

Community Spread Causes Hospital Cases to Rise

BETHLEHEM – Community spread of COVID-19 has reached the Lehigh Valley and Poconos, St. Luke’s infectious disease specialists have confirmed. Community spread means the virus is being transmitted among members of our community, in our community.

Because of this, St. Luke’s University Health Network is urging the public to shelter at home. Stay home to stop the spread.

“We’ve been tracking the number of cases,” said St. Luke’s infectious disease specialist Jeffrey Jahre, MD, Senior Vice President of Medical Affairs. “Community spread indicates that the region will experience a rapid surge of cases in the next few weeks.”

That surge will tax the region’s health care resources.

“It is critical that the public heads the advice to stay home,” Jahre said. “We all can do our part to stop the spread. Most important right now is to stay home unless you are providing ‘life-sustaining’ services. Our health care workers, our grocery store employees, people in distribution – they can protect themselves by practicing good hygiene and social distancing when possible.”

Note, there are some valid reasons to leave home, for example, obtaining groceries or pharmaceuticals, medical visits or checking on a relative when there is no other means to do so.

For many at home, it is important to keep regularly scheduled medical appointments. St. Luke’s is offering telehealth virtual visits for individuals who still need to receive care. Call your family physician for details or call St. Luke’s InfoLink at 1-866-STLUKES (785-8537).

“Our patients still have regular health needs,” says Jahre. “Not everything is COVID-19 related, and many visits are now being conducted over the phone or computer.”

For more on the COVID-19 pandemic, visit www.sluhn.org/covid-19.


Media Contact

Sam Kennedy, Corporate Communications Director, 484-526-4134, samuel.kennedy@sluhn.org

About St. Luke’s

Founded in 1872, St. Luke’s University Health Network (SLUHN) is a fully integrated, regional, non-profit network of more than 15,000 employees providing services at 11 hospitals and 300 outpatient sites. With annual net revenue greater than $2 billion, the Network’s service area includes 11 counties: Lehigh, Northampton, Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Montgomery, Monroe, Schuylkill and Luzerne counties in Pennsylvania and Warren and Hunterdon counties in New Jersey. Dedicated to advancing medical education, St. Luke’s is the preeminent teaching hospital in central-eastern Pennsylvania. In partnership with Temple University, St. Luke’s created the Lehigh Valley’s first and only regional medical school campus. It also operates the nation’s longest continuously operating School of Nursing, established in 1884, and 34 fully accredited graduate medical educational programs with 263 residents and fellows. St. Luke’s is the only Lehigh Valley-based health care system with Medicare’s five- and four-star ratings (the highest) for quality, efficiency and patient satisfaction. St. Luke’s is both a Leapfrog Group and Healthgrades Top Hospital and a Newsweek World’s Best Hospital. In 2019, three of IBM Watson Health’s 100 Top Hospitals were St. Luke’s hospitals. St. Luke’s University Hospital has earned the 100 Top Major Teaching Hospital designation from IBM Watson Health seven times total and five years in a row. St. Luke’s has also been cited by IBM Watson Health as a 50 Top Cardiovascular Program. Utilizing the Epic electronic medical record (EMR) system for both inpatient and outpatient services, the Network is a multi-year recipient of the Most Wired award recognizing the breadth of the SLUHN’s information technology applications such as telehealth, online scheduling and online pricing information. St. Luke’s is also recognized as one of the state’s lowest cost providers.