PA Coronavirus News

July 1, 2020
Pennsylvania Expands Mask-Wearing Requirements

It is now mandatory that all Pennsylvanians wear a mask anytime they leave home
It is now mandatory that all Pennsylvanians wear a mask anytime they leave home, Gov. Tom Wolf said Wednesday.

HARRISBURG, PA — Officials in Pennsylvania on Wednesday expanded mask-wearing requirements amid the coronavirus pandemic, making it mandatory that all residents wear a mask anytime they leave home.

This is one step further than the previous rule of making face coverings mandatory while in businesses.

The order, signed by the health secretary under the Disease Prevention and Control Act, takes effect immediately.

“This mask-wearing order is essential to stopping the recent increase in COVID-19 cases we have seen in Pennsylvania,” Gov. Tom Wolf said. “Those hot spots can be traced to situations where Pennsylvanians were not wearing masks or practicing social distancing – two practices that must be adhered to if we want to maintain the freedoms we have in place under our reopening.”

According to the order, all Pennsylvanians must wear a face covering that goes over their nose when:

  • outdoors and unable to maintain a distance of 6 feet at all times
  • in any indoor location where there are members of the public
  • waiting for, riding on, driving in, or operating public transportation, taxi, or ride-sharing car
  • at a hospital, doctor’s office, pharmacy, and any healthcare setting
  • at work

There are limited exceptions to the face-covering requirement, including for those who cannot wear a mask due medical condition and children under the age of 2.

The updated order remains in place “until further notice.”

As of Wednesday, Pennsylvania has reported 87,242 COVID-19 cases and 6,687 total deaths. Source

Spotlight PA
Since the first case of the coronavirus was identified in Pennsylvania on March 6, we’ve been tracking its spread. These numbers tell only part of the story. Tests are still not widely available, and you can have the virus — and transmit it — without feeling sick. The numbers shown here represent known cases. Because of limited testing, undiagnosed cases are probably widespread. Every day, we are compiling data from multiple sources, including state and county health departments, to provide a more comprehensive picture of the coronavirus in the region.

View cases by county here


June 23, 2020
State lawmaker rails against mask mandates, claims ‘my body, my choice’

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — A republican lawmaker from Butler County is railing against mandates requiring Pennsylvanians — in certain conditions — to wear face masks to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

This is the same state representative who wants Governor Tom Wolf to be impeached, along with several of his House GOP colleagues.

“Many who are advocating that citizens be required to wear masks are from the ‘my body, my choice’ crowd,” said Daryl Metcalfe Tuesday morning before a House committee meeting.

So Metcalfe says, game on — he’s applying that phrase to the mask-wearing debate.

“I think every American citizen has a right to choose whether or not they’re going to wear a mask if they believe that’s the best thing for them,” he said.

Tuesday, Metcalfe began the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee meeting — which he chairs — calling out a new rule from the Bipartisan Management Committee, or BMC.

Recently, the BMC adopted a policy mandating all legislators wear a mask in its meetings. Metcalfe disagrees saying they cannot require such a thing, and believes lawmakers and Pennsylvanians alike should have the freedom to choose what works best for them.

“They have no authority to dictate to members whether they gotta wear a hat in a meeting or a mask in a meeting,” he said. “Wolf or any level of government has no right to mandate to citizens whether they’re going to wear a mask or not.”

Governor Wolf refuted Metcalfe’s claims in a press release sent out hours after the representative’s comments, saying face coverings do reduce exposure from asymptomatic, but unknowingly infectious, people.

Last week, the Governor called masks a vital tool in the fight to stop the spread of the virus.

“Masks actually do work, it’s not a political statement — they actually work,” Wolf said June 17. “The virus is neither republican nor democrat, liberal or conservative – it’s out there to get us.”

To those who say masks infringe on their freedoms, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams recently tweeted, “…if more wear them, we’ll have more freedom to go out.”

Metcalfe however, believes regulating public health has gone too far.

“There’s a lot of things you can do that you can make an argument that it’s going to protect people,” he said. “You could shut down all of the roads and not allow people to drive, you wouldn’t have accidents anymore, you wouldn’t have a loss of life on the highways.”

According to Health Secretary Rachel Levine’s April 15 order, businesses are required to enforce mask-wearing for customers, unless someone has an underlying health condition. That order does apply to counties both in yellow and/or green phases of reopening.  Source


June 19, 2020

Contact tracing IDs more than 4,000 exposed to covid-19 in Pennsylvania

More than 4,000 people who were exposed to covid-19 have been identified through contact tracing efforts throughout the state, the Pennsylvania Department of Health announced Friday.

“We are now equipped with hundreds of contact tracers that can help us mitigate the spread of this virus,” Secretary of Health Rachel Levine said in a statement. “We are proud to partner with dedicated individuals and organizations across the state to protect our neighbors who have come into contact with someone with covid-19.”

The state has employed 500 trained contact tracers throughout Pennsylvania, including 130 nurses, according to a news release. The tracers are being assisted by six county health departments and four municipal health departments who take primary responsibility within their jurisdictions.

Additionally, more than 800 contact tracers have volunteered through the ServPA platform, at least 50 through AmeriCorps and hundreds more through other community organizations, the release said.

Regional consortiums will use this summer to assess the number of contact tracers needed in each area of the state, recruit contact tracers, train and educate them. The consortiums also will coordinate information and data, the news release said, “to ensure consistency within the region.”

According to the news release, the regional consortiums will create a “sustainable infrastructure” that will support growing contact tracing efforts in each region.

The southwest region of the state has already mobilized with the help of the Jewish Healthcare Foundation, the release said. The Department of Health will begin consortium meetings in the Northwest, Northcentral, Northeast, Southcentral and Southeast regions.

Gov. Tom Wolf said in May the state would begin hiring civilians to build the Commonwealth Civilian Coronavirus Corps, dedicated to contact tracing work. At that time, he said lack of contact tracing played a significant role in why the southwestern part of the state was delayed in moving to the yellow phase of reopening.

Tech companies and developers have been touting the value of cellphone data for contact tracing since the pandemic began, though some argue it could become an issue of data privacy. Carnegie Mellon University developed a contact tracing application using ultrasound technology, and tech giants Apple and Google are developing their own application.

As of Sunday, there were 81,730 positive cases of covid-19 in Pennsylvania, and 6,423 deaths. While the statewide stay-at-home order has been lifted, mask-wearing is still required inside businesses in the yellow and green phases.  Source

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