Pennsylvania COVID-19 news roundup

By OWEN WALSH
Posted 4/1/20

HARRISBURG, PA — As of Tuesday, March 31, Gov. Tom Wolf has expanded his stay-at-home order to 33 of PA’s 67 counties. The full list now includes Allegheny, Beaver, Berks, Bucks, Butler, …

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Pennsylvania COVID-19 news roundup

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HARRISBURG, PA — As of Tuesday, March 31, Gov. Tom Wolf has expanded his stay-at-home order to 33 of PA’s 67 counties. The full list now includes Allegheny, Beaver, Berks, Bucks, Butler, Cameron, Carbon, Centre, Chester, Crawford, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Erie, Forest, Franklin, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lawrence, Lebanon, Lehigh, Luzerne, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia, Pike, Schuylkill, Somerset, Washington, Wayne, Westmoreland and York counties.

Under a stay-at-home order, residents are only allowed to leave their homes to obtain medical supplies or treatment for members of the household (including pets); obtain supplies from work; get necessary supplies or services for their household or to deliver them to somebody else; engage in outdoor activity like hiking or walking; go to work at a life-sustaining business; care for a family member, pet, or vulnerable person in another household; go to an educational institution to get educational supplies necessary for distance learning or to receive meals; travel to and return to a place of residence outside the commonwealth; or travel as required by law enforcement or court order.

Schools to remain closed indefinitely 

After originally extending school closures two weeks at a time, the governor has announced that schools will remain closed until further notice. Local school districts will be providing remote learning plans and resources for continuity of education this week. Wayne Highlands and Wallenpaupack Area school districts both offer free grab-and-go lunches for all students.

“At Wayne Highlands School District, we are saddened by the consequence this has had on the education of our students. However, we are not deterred from still making great things happen,” superintendent Greg Frigoletto said in a statement.

Wayne applies for aid, closes recycling center and more

District Attorney A.G. Howell has announced a mutual aid agreement, “which grants county-wide jurisdiction and enforcement powers to municipal departments amid concerns due to the COVID-19 virus.” The agreement was put into place in case the COVID-19 virus causes any department throughout the area to be short-staffed. A press release said that PA state police will retain statewide jurisdiction and will continue aiding local departments as it has done in the past. “On behalf of all our police departments, it is important for our community to know the police are prepared, ready, and available for protection and service, especially during anxious times like we are currently experiencing,” Howell said.

The Wayne County Commissioners have asked all second-home owners in the area to self-quarantine. “We very seriously ask the population who moves into this county now and into the summertime, to please do what President Trump has asked you to do; please do the things that our governor is asking you to do, make sure you self-quarantine so we do not pass this COVID-19 around to the population that lives here year-round,” chairman Brian Smith said at their last meeting. At the same meeting, the commissioners authorized chief financial officer Vicky Botjer to apply for financial assistance from federal and state emergency management agencies.

The commissioners also announced the temporary closure of its recycling center. “While recycling is an important and environmentally-necessary thing to do, if we close the center it will help keep people at home to prevent the spread of the virus,” the commissioners said in a joint statement.

Wayne Memorial reverses maternity policy

Two days after announcing a policy which prohibited pregnant women from being accompanied by any visitors into the hospital’s maternity unit, Wayne Memorial reversed the policy and will now allow one visitor to accompany a pregnant patient. Both the patient and her visitor will be screened for COVID-19 prior to admission.

The now nixed policy was originally enacted after New York State hospitals were banning visitors, which led to Wayne Memorial receiving calls to admit pregnant women from New York City and other high-risk areas, according to a press release. Since then, Gov. Cuomo issued an executive order that NYS hospitals not prohibit visitors.

“The Governor’s measure lifted some of the anticipated burden for those patients off our shoulders,” said director of patient care services James Pettinato. He also added that in the event of a COVID-19-positive pregnant patient, the hospital has procedures ready to separate her from other patients in the maternity unit.

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