Six presumptive positive COVID-19 cases recorded in Chester County
By Richard Gaw
By Richard L. Gaw
Chester County Health Department officials have announced that six county residents have tested positive for COVID-19, as posted on the website www.chesco.org/coronavirus.
The first two cases are identified as a 56-year-old female resident of West Pikeland, who was diagnosed on March 13, and a 30-year-old male who lives in North Coventry, who was confirmed on March 14. Two additional cases were confirmed on by the Chester County Health Department on March 15, and are identified as a 54-year-old male resident of Goshen, and a 20-year-old female, also of Goshen. Each of these individuals had a history of exposure to a COVID-19 case.
The gender, age identifications and the respective towns of the two latest confirmed cases have not been disclosed on the department’s coronavirus website.
As of March 15, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Pennsylvania now stands at 76. In addition to Chester County, there have been cases detected in the following counties: Allegheny, Bucks, Cumberland, Delaware, Lehigh, Luzerne, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia, Pike, Washington and Wayne.
The news that the virus now includes Chester County comes on the heels of a sweeping effort made last week by Pa. Gov. Tom Wolf and many of the state’s top officials to initiate measures to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus throughout the county and in several other counties in the Commonwealth. They include severe restrictions placed on businesses, public events, travel and the closure of public K-12 schools, including brick and mortar and cyber charter schools, career and technical centers (CTCs), and intermediate units (IUs). All other schools – including private, parochial, and institutions of higher education – should be consulted directly for the most current closure information.
Gov. Wolf was joined by Chrissy Houlahan, U.S. Rep. for Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District, Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine, and Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera, during this announcement.
Effective in Chester, Montgomery, Delaware and Bucks counties:
- A no visitor policy has been implemented for correctional facilities and nursing homes and will be evaluated for other facilities.
- Freedom of travel will remain, but the governor and his administration ask all people to refrain from non-essential travel.
- All child care centers licensed by the Commonwealth will be closed beginning March 16.
- Adult day care centers will be closed beginning March 16.
- Essential services such as police, fire and emergency medical services, and essential services for vulnerable populations, will continue to remain available.
- Supermarkets, pharmacies, and gas stations will remain open. The administration issued guidelines for non-essential businesses during county-specific mitigation periods to protect employees, customers, and suppliers and limit the spread of the virus through personal contact and surfaces.
Statewide, the Wolf administration:
- Strongly encourages the suspension of large gatherings, events, conferences of 250 individuals or more.
- Discourages individuals from traveling to recreational activities like gyms, movie theaters and shopping malls.
- Encourages religious leaders to exercise discretion in order to mitigate the spread of illness.
- Initiated a no-visitor policy at all State correctional facilities and nursing homes to ensure the safety of inmates, residents, staff and visitors.
- Restricted visitors in state centers effective today to ensure health and safety for individuals with an intellectual disability.
- Restricted visitors in assisted living and personal care homes to minimize exposure to our seniors and individuals with disabilities.
“Over the past two days, we enacted significant social distancing in Montgomery and Delaware counties and starting tomorrow, we will expand these mitigation efforts to Bucks County and Chester County,” Gov. Wolf said. “Where there is evidence of exposure to COVID-19, the Commonwealth has taken decisive action – closing both public and private schools and early learning centers, prohibiting visitors from entering senior care and long-term care facilities, and closing government offices.
“We have initiated these actions in places where we have confirmed evidence of risk, like Montgomery, Delaware, Bucks, and Chester counties, and we will continue to monitor this situation as it unfolds to determine if and when we will do this in other counties in Pennsylvania. Individuals, businesses, and communities across Pennsylvania are already stepping up to the challenge. If we succeed in slowing the spread of COVID-19, it will be because we all do our part.”
At a recent press conference, Gov. Wolf strongly urged “non-essential businesses” in Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties to close for 14 days from the start of the mitigation efforts, in order to protect employees, customers and suppliers, and limit the spread of the virus through personal contact and surfaces.
Impact on Businesses
In a March 14 letter from Levine and Pa. Secretary of Community and Economic Development Dennis M. Davin to the state’s business owners, they were informed that the Pa. Department of Health strongly encouraged that the following businesses should “cease regular operations”:
- Community and recreation centers
- Gyms, including yoga/spin/barre facilities
- Hair salons, nail salons and spas
- Casinos, concert venues and theaters
- Sporting events facilities and golf courses
- Non-essential retail facilities, including shopping malls (except for pharmacy or other health care facilities located there)
The letter also advised that restaurants should remain open for carry-out and delivery only, and that liquor stores to begin “an orderly closure,” but will permit individuals to buy beer and wine at grocery stores who have licenses granted to them by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB).
Rep. Houlahan also announced the passage of federal legislation to support the efforts of states to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and offered support to businesses and communities in the 6th Congressional District.
“We are called upon to be our best selves in an unusual and stressful time,” said Houlahan. “This is about our community as a whole – it is as much about protecting our friends and neighbors as it is about protecting ourselves. In Washington, we just passed a second package of legislation to help families, including free testing, paid sick leave, unemployment insurance, and more Medicaid funding. As a former entrepreneur and chief operating officer of a company in Chester County, I know how hard this is and will continue to be there for our small businesses.”
“Pennsylvania has taken a different approach than most other states and countries,” Gov. Wolf said. “We’re trying to approach the coronavirus outbreak in a measured way. Where there is evidence of exposure to COVID-19, the commonwealth has taken decisive action. Closing schools and early learning centers – both public and private, prohibiting visitors from entering senior care and long-term care facilities, and closing government offices.
“We will continue to monitor this situation as it unfolds to determine if – and when – we will do this in other counties in Pennsylvania.”
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email [email protected].