As his hospitals begin to phase-in services across its system, Geisinger President & CEO Dr. Jaewon Ryu said providers are monitoring potential COVID-19 implications in children while continuing its robust research program.

During his weekly press conference Friday, Ryu said while the novel coronavirus has spread across the globe, the focus remains on containing and monitoring the virus locally, especially as Pennsylvania phases-in opening statewide.

"The peak won't be as high as we initially projected, which is good news," Ryu said. "It's a very local dynamic, which is why we have to track the activity level of the virus in any given county. We have to try to get as local as possible with the data. 

"But even as it trends down, we see new cases every day."

Geisinger officials are also tracking potential COVID-19 implications in children. Several cases have been seen in Pennsylvania in recent weeks. St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children in Philadelphia has treated three children who have recovered.

Ryu said Geisinger has not treated any children across its system.

"We are monitoring it closely," he said. "It's obviously very concerning. The science continues to emerge about this virus. We have not seen it. But our pediatric experts are in contact with colleagues throughout the county to see what works and how to approach it. So our antennas are up."

Geisinger also continues to ramp up elective procedures. Ryu said at Geisinger's main campus in Danville, 17 operating rooms were open two weeks ago. That number jumped to 20 last week and to 25 this week.

"We're continuing our phased approach," he said. "We're not dependent on a date or target. We want to stay nimble in case we see an increase in virus activity."

Ryu said the system continues a robust research program into the coronavirus, including studying antibodies. The research is still in the stages and Geisinger officials are learning as they go.

"This virus hit our shores in the last couple of months, it's still evolving," he said. "Geisinger is front and center of these (research) efforts. Our physicians have seen some of these medications might have some hope. As scientists, we are awaiting definitive data." 

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