County Commissioners extend ‘essential services-only’ order to April 13
● By Steven Hoffman
In a further effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect the county’s 2,400 full- and part-time employees and its individual and families, the Chester County Commissioners announced on March 25 that they have extended the county’s ”essential services-only” waiver to April 13.
The Commissioners’ decision dovetails with the “Stay at Home” order issued by Pennsylvania Gov. Wolf and State Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine on March 23 to residents in Chester County and several other counties in the state, in an effort to save lives and slow down the spread of COVID-19. The other counties on the list included Allegheny, Bucks, Delaware, Monroe, Montgomery, and Philadelphia.
It is the latest layer of protection issued by Chester County government, who moved to an “essential services-only” order on March 14, in advance of other counties in the region.
“The County’s essential services have long been identified in our continuity of operations (COOP) plan, so while making the decision was not an easy one, enacting it was relatively straightforward,” said Chester County Commissioners’ Chair Marian Moskowitz. “Making that decision has proven to be very prudent. The build-up of prevention measures put in place over the past week by us, by the State and our neighboring counties have been necessary to make every effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.
“And although we have put an end-date of April 13 on our plan to return to full services, we will continue to evaluate and monitor the need to remain at essential services-only beyond that date.”
The essential services identified by Chester County Government range from the 9-1-1 Center, Chester County Prison, Pocopson Home long-term care facility, the Chester County Youth Center and the Coroner’s Office, to crucial court-related and Human Services functions.
Following state guidelines, a “no visitor” policy remains at the Chester County Prison and at Pocopson Home. Visitors to the Chester County Youth Center are answering a series of questions to determine if they are showing signs of coronavirus, and if they are, they are not allowed to enter.
Meanwhile, Chester County Health Department and Emergency Services staff are continuing to work with the Pennsylvania Department of Health and other partners to provide education, mitigation, communication and investigation services related to COVID-19 for both Chester County and Delaware County residents.
“The systems in place, and the efforts of the Health Department staff, are amazing to witness,” said County Commissioner Josh Maxwell. “And as would be expected, we take measures every day to screen every person that enters the Health Operations Center and Emergency Operations Center, so that we can ensure that the people doing critical work during this pandemic are removed from the possibility of infection of coronavirus.”
In the weeks since moving to essential operations, the Commissioners, the County’s administrative staff and department leaders have established special programs, services and public information to support individuals, families and businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
“We are focusing our time on strengthening links with all county-based hospital systems to determine current and future testing capabilities for COVID-19,” said County Commissioner Michelle Kichline. “We have also held a remote Town Hall gathering with vital information for our businesses through partnerships with the Chester County Chamber and Economic Development Council, and we maintain communication with all municipalities – all in an effort to meet the needs of everyone who has been hard-hit by this situation.
“We will not stop our focus on meeting the food, shelter and employment needs of everyone in Chester County, and encourage everyone do their part by following the Governor’s Stay at Home order and taking all precautions to get us through the coronavirus crisis.”