‘We Pennsylvanians want to survive,’ Wolf says, as he issues statewide stay at home order

    Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf announces a stay-at-home order for six Pennsylvania counties during an online news conference on. Monday, 3/23/20 (Screen Capture)

    Gov. Tom Wolf called on all Pennsylvanians to do their part to slow the spread of COVID-19 Wednesday as he put the entire state under a stay-at-home order through the end of the month.

    “Regardless of where you live in the state, you should not leave your home unless absolutely necessary,” Wolf said as he announced the order, which takes effect at 8 p.m on Wednesday and remains in effect until April 30. “This next month will be difficult, but … we will get through this together.”

    As of Wednesday morning, residents in 33 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties were already living under stay-at-home orders, meaning they could not leave their homes except to travel to essential jobs, go to the grocery store, seek medical care or exercise outside, according to official guidelines published by the Wolf administration.

    By expanding those restrictions across Pennsylvania Wednesday, Wolf joined at least 30 other governors who have issued stay-at-home orders statewide.

    Some jurisdictions have called on police to enforce stay-at-home orders with fines and criminal citations.

    But Wolf said that the Pennsylvania State Police would focus their enforcement efforts on businesses, which have been asked to close their doors unless they can prove they’re “life-sustaining” and have obtained a waiver from the state.

    State health officials have so far confirmed 5,805 cases of COVID-19 in 60 different counties in Pennsylvania. Wolf said Wednesday that the disease is “in every part of the state.”

    More than 620 Pennsylvanians have required hospitalization for COVID-19 since the state confirmed its first cases on March 6, state Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said Wednesday.

    The state has also confirmed approximately 286 cases in healthcare workers and 200 cases in nursing homes, she said.

    Levine said Wolf’s order “is critical to prevent a wave of cases that could potentially overwhelm our health care system.”

    “If we do not do this correctly, there will be a significant surge of patients in our healthcare system,” Levine said. “If we do do it correctly, we will see a [smaller] surge of patients.”