The Lead

COVID-19 in Pa.: With new order, residents in half of all Pa. counties are being told to stay at home

By: - March 31, 2020 3:12 pm

Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine. Source: Pennsylvania Department of Health.

Residents in 33 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties are now under stay-at-home orders from the Wolf administration, as the state continues its efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19.

On Tuesday, the Wolf administration ordered residents in Cameron, Crawford, Forest, Franklin, Lawrence, Lebanon and Somerset counties not to leave their homes except under the most limited circumstances. The order takes effect at 8 p.m. Tuesday and runs until April 30.

Those residents join Pennsylvanians in 26 other counties who face similar restrictions. Those other counties are: Allegheny, Beaver, Berks, Bucks, Butler, Carbon, Centre, Chester, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Erie, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lehigh, Luzerne, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia, Pike, Schuylkill,  Washington, Wayne, Westmoreland and York counties.

As of midday Tuesday, state health officials had confirmed 4,843 cases of COVID-19 in 60 of 67 Pennsylvania counties, an increase of 756 cases since Monday. Statewide, 63 Pennsylvanians have died as a result of the illness.

During an online briefing with journalists Tuesday, Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said it was too soon to say when, or if, the state might reach a plateau in infections.

Asked when or if the disease might start to seriously impact the Pennsylvania’s hospitals in the same way it has affected other states, Levine said the state is working closely with researchers at the University of Pittsburgh to model the spread of the illness.

Under the terms of the administration’s stay at home order, Pennsylvanians can leave their homes to shop for groceries, pick up prescriptions or go the doctor, or exercise near their homes — as long as social-distancing guidelines are observed.

The administration considers a variety of factors, including the number of cases per-capita or the rate of change in cases, when it places counties under stay at home orders. The decision can also include conversations with local, county and state-level elected officials.

Asked how the state is gauging the success of its mitigation efforts, Levine listed similar factors. On the whole, however, the administration is “[trusting] Pennsylvanians to do the right thing. And the right thing now is to stay at home.”

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John L. Micek
John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.