After the lockdown, a path forward | Five for Your Weekend

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Happy Weekend, everyone!

This week, everyone seemed to have their attention focused on a path forward – a way for Pennsylvania to resume, restart and move forward from the throes of COVID-induced shutdowns.

The week began with protesters who rallied on the Capitol steps Monday, demanding the state return to normalcy, despite state officials concerns that opening the state too early could lead to a spike in COVID-19 cases.

On Wednesday, Gov. Tom Wolf unveiled his plan to begin transitioning the state out of shutdown on May 8.

By Thursday, U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., had his own plan for how the state should move forward.

And Editor-in-Chief John Micek explores the possibility of a “reset” in his Friday commentary, “We can’t come out of this time, out of this silence, out of this pause, and simply go back to doing what we were doing before and pretend it was working.”

As for our usual disclaimer: Continue self-isolating, stay informed and follow the advice and precautions laid out by state health officials.

The team at the Capital-Star will continue to work hard, bringing you the news you need about COVID-19 and the key issues that affect your lives. At a time of trial, the need for clear, concise reporting is more important than ever. And we’re going to deliver it to you. If you have questions or want to pass along story tips, email us at [email protected].

As always, the top five stories from this week’s news are below to help you stay current.

All the best,
Cassie Miller | Associate Editor

1. COVID-19 in Pennsylvania: Tracking the outbreak with maps and graphsThe staff at the Capital-Star is working round-the-clock to keep you updated on the COVID-19 pandemic in Pennsylvania. Our continually updated graphics use state Department of Health data to show you the latest in testing data, total case counts, and the geographic spread of the virus.

First, our county-level map shows how many cases have been confirmed in each of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties. We’re currently updating this at least once a day with information from the Department of Health’s noon-time press releases.

This map only uses data from the state Department of Health, so it may not include new cases that you’ve seen reported in local media outlets. Local hospitals and health officials report their cases to the state, and we’re relying on state data to make sure we’re not over-counting patients.

2. COVID-19 in Philly: Breaking down results by ZIP code tells the city’s storyBy Michael D’Onofrio

PHILADELPHIA — The city ZIP code with the highest number of confirmed novel coronavirus cases on Tuesday was 19131 in West Philadelphia (152 out of 473), according to city data.

Meanwhile, the ZIP code with the highest rate of positive cases was 19116 in Northeast Philadelphia (40.4 percent, 116 positive tests out of 287).

Confirmed cases of novel coronavirus rose to 3,728 to start the week, up 17 percent from Sunday. The city logged 12,628 negative tests.

The Kenney administration will provide updates at its daily briefing at 1 p.m. about the city’s response to the coronavirus.

Philadelphia Police Lt. James Walker became the first city employee to die from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Walker died on Sunday.

Fatalities from the disease hit 45 on Monday, although city officials were investigating other deaths that may be linked to the virus.

2. COVID-19 outbreak in Pa.: What’s open and what’s closedUpdate: Select Pennsylvania state liquor stores opened for curbside pick-up on Monday, April 20. Full information can be found here. Also, on Sunday, April 19, the Wolf administration announced the state would begin enforcement of its mandatory mask requirement for employers and consumers. The full parameters are in this story by Correspondent Hannah McDonald.

Update: On Wednesday, April 15, the Wolf administration ordered essential businesses operating under the state’s stay-at-home order to require face masks for customers and workers. The order is effective immediately and will be enforced beginning Sunday, April 19 at 8 p.m.

Under the order, most businesses must bar non-essential visitors who are not wearing masks from the premises. And employers have to provide masks to workers or approve homemade masks for employees to wear. Workers don’t have to use the masks during meal breaks.

Meetings and training sessions should be conducted virtually, state Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine, who signed the order, said during a press briefing Wednesday afternoon, and the start and end times for employees’ shifts should be staggered where possible.

The order comes a week after New Jersey’s Democratic governor, Phil Murphy, signed an executive order mandating that all customers and employees at grocery stores and other retail outlets to wear masks, according to NorthJersey.com.

Until now, the Pennsylvania guidance on masks had been voluntary. But Levine hinted Tuesday that a reversal was imminent.

4. ‘You’re putting yourselves at risk’ Levine tells protesters planning event at the Capitol next weekStanding firm on the stay-at-home orders and social distancing efforts implemented by state officials, state Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine reiterated why it’s important for Pennsylvanians to follow guidance from state officials.

“Now is not the time to relax those social distancing efforts,” Levine said during an online briefing, Thursday.

On Monday, April 20, protesters are expected to occupy the Capitol steps in Harrisburg to protest Gov. Tom Wolf’s continued stay-at-home order, and the closing of non-essential businesses across the state that’s helped crater tax revenues and sent unemployment claims skyrocketing.

“You’re putting yourselves at risk for COVID-19,” Levine said of the potential protesters.

5. The latest on COVID-19 in Pa.: 37,053 confirmed cases in 67 countiesWelcome to the Capital-Star’s COVID-19 dashboard, where we’re tracking new COVID-19 cases and testing data based on the latest information from state health officials.

Our interactive graphics are updated at roughly noon each day with the latest figures from the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

These figures represent a running total of all the COVID-19 cases and tests that have been reported to the Department of Health since March 6, when state officials confirmed the first two cases of the disease in Pennsylvania.

And that’s the week. Enjoy the rest of your weekend. We’ll see you all back here on Monday.

Cassie Miller
A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry. Miller has an extensive background in magazine writing, editing and design. She is a graduate of Penn State University where she served as the campus newspaper’s photo editor. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in professional journalism at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In addition to her role at the Capital-Star, Miller enjoys working on her independent zines, Dead Air and Infrared.