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Hershey Medical Center reports its 5th coronavirus death as its number of patients increases again

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Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center reported its fifth death from the coronavirus in numbers released Friday, as its total number of coronavirus patients increased again, to 19.

Its total of 6 patients last week on May 14, was the lowest since Penn State Health started releasing data March 30. But now it is nearing its highest total, which is 22 on April 9.

Of the 19 coronavirus cases now at Hershey Medical Center, 7 are in intensive care, 1 more than Thursday. Three coronavirus patients are on a ventilator, also one more than Thursday.

The center has 12 patients under investigation for the coronavirus, 3 more than Thursday. It has discharged 109 coronavirus patients it has treated, 2 more than Thursday.

It has completed 6,706 tests, 104 more than Thursday, with 93 percent negative and 7 percent positive overall.

This is the second time Hershey Medical Center has reported its fifth death. On May 14, Penn State Health reduced the number of coronavirus deaths in patients it has treated at Hershey Medical Center from 5 to 4.

Hershey Medical Center had reported its 5th coronavirus death May 12, a day after reporting its 4th.

“In accordance with Pennsylvania Department of Health guidelines, Penn State Health initially reports deaths of persons under investigation for COVID-19 in our hospitals as COVID-19 positive deaths. Test results later determined that the death of a person under investigation at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center is not attributable to COVID-19,” said Barbara Schindo, media relations specialist for Penn State Health, in an email after the Press & Journal requested clarification of last week’s decrease.

It reported its third death of a coronavirus patient May 6. A Penn State Health spokesman told the Press & Journal that he is unable to offer any additional details regarding specific patient cases or information about the deaths.

On April 25, the center reported its second death of a patient related to the coronavirus. The first Hershey Medical Center patient died from the coronavirus March 27. No details about the first two deaths were released either.

It is unclear which death is no longer considered related to the coronavirus.

Penn State Health’s dashboard provides numbers for its two hospitals — Hershey Medical Center and Penn State Health St. Joseph in Reading.

The numbers reported on the dashboard include two types of patients being cared for: patients with a confirmed positive test for COVID-19 and patients who have symptoms consistent with COVID-19 but do not yet have a confirmed positive test. Those patients are referred to as patients under investigation.

St. Joseph has 11 patients being treated, 4 less than Thursday, and 6 under investigation, 5 more than Thursday. It has discharged 95 COVID-19 patients total, 2 more than Thursday. It has reported its 20 deaths, 2 more than Thursday.

Of St. Joseph’s patients, 5 are in the ICU, the same as Thursday, and 4 are on ventilators, 1 more than Thursday.

In comparison to Hershey Medical Center’s high percentage of negative tests, St. Joseph has seen different results. Out of its 5,297 tests, 69 percent have been negative with 31 percent positive.

Penn State Health announced March 21 that an employee at one of its outpatient practices on the campus of Hershey Medical Center had tested positive for COVID-19.

Penn State Health is accepting drop-off donations of key supplies from the community at Penn State Health Center, 175 Crystal A Drive, Hershey.

Hershey Medical Center is open to treat all patients. The hospital has suspended non-essential surgeries and testing, put in place a restricted visitation policy and “has an incident command structure up and running with operational leaders guiding the organization’s preparedness and response efforts.”

Penn State Health Medical Group is consolidating a number of its physician practices across the region and plans to close others until further notice in response to the evolving coronavirus pandemic. The Penn State Health Medical Group location at 3100 Schoolhouse Road in Londonderry Township remains open.