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Chester County Press

Gov. Wolf to Chester County: 'Stay at home'

03/24/2020 01:41PM ● By Richard Gaw

By Richard L. Gaw

Staff Writer

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf joined with Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine on Monday to issue “Stay at Home” orders 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 order went into effect on March 23 at 8 p.m. and will remain in effect until April 6. All Pennsylvania schools will also remain closed through at least April 6.

The other counties on the list include Allegheny, Bucks, Delaware, Monroe, Montgomery, and Philadelphia.

These orders are, in effect, the construction of a statewide barrier to the rising number of COVD-19 cases in Pennsylvania – and in Chester County. Since the commonwealth confirmed its first case of coronavirus, positive cases have continued to rise. As of March 22, there were 479 positive cases of COVID-19 in the state, and and reports that two residents have died from the virus.

In Chester County, the number of positive cases of coronavirus now stands at 30.

“I remain deeply concerned about this public health crisis and we must continue to take careful but critical steps now to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” Gov. Wolf said. “We are issuing these orders because Pennsylvanians’ health and safety remains our highest priority.”

“The number of cases continues to grow and so we must take further steps to stop the spread of this contagious and dangerous novel virus to protect the public’s health and mitigate the risk to our hospital system,” Dr. Levine said. “There is one way to make sure people don’t need to be hospitalized and we don’t strain our health care system: Stay calm. Stay home. Stay safe.”

Under the order, individuals may leave their residence only to perform any of the following allowable individual activities and allowable essential travel:

•   Tasks essential to maintain health and safety, or the health and safety of their family or household members (including pets), such as obtaining medicine or medical supplies, visiting a health care professional, or obtaining supplies they need to work from home

•   Getting necessary services or supplies for themselves, for their family or household members, or as part of volunteer efforts, or to deliver those services or supplies to others to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences

•   Engaging in outdoor activity, such as walking, hiking or running if they maintain social distancing

•   To perform work providing essential products and services at a life-sustaining business

•   To care for a family member or pet in another household

•   Any travel related to the provision of or access to the above-mentioned individual activities or life-sustaining business activities

•   Travel to care for elderly, minors, dependents, persons with disabilities, or other vulnerable persons

•   Travel to or from educational institutions for purposes of receiving materials for distance learning, for receiving meals, and any other related services

•   Travel to return to a place of residence from an outside jurisdiction

•   Travel required by law enforcement or court order.

•   Travel required for non-residents to return to their place of residence outside the commonwealth

The following operations are exempt from the order: Life-sustaining business activities; health care or medical services providers; access to life-sustaining services for low-income residents, including food banks; access to child care services for employees of life-sustaining businesses; news media; law enforcement; the federal government; and religious institutions.

Individuals experiencing homelessness are not subject to this order but are strongly urged to find shelter and government agencies are urged to take steps needed to provide shelter for those individuals.

International students, foster youth, and any other students who would otherwise experience displacement or homelessness as a result of campus closures are exempt and may remain in campus housing.

During the length of the order, law enforcement will be focused on ensuring that residents are aware of the order and informing the public of social distancing practices rather than enforcement.

These latest orders come on the heels of a flourish of other recent statements from Gov. Wolf and Secretary Levine that began to tighten the reigns on individuals and businesses in the state. On March 6, Gov. Wolf issued a Proclamation of Disaster Emergency due to the emergence of COVID-19 in the commonwealth and the U.S.  

On March 19, Gov. Wolf and Secretary Levine issued orders directing the closure of non-life sustaining businesses. Thy said that the operation of non-life sustaining businesses present the opportunity for unnecessary gatherings, personal contact and interaction that will increase the risk of transmission and the risk of community spread of COVID-19. Similarly, the newest directive for individuals to stay at home will facilitate the mitigation of COVID-19 by decreasing the opportunities for the transmission of the virus and decrease the risk of community spread.

To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email [email protected].