To slow the spread of the coronavirus, Pa. Gov. Tom Wolf ordered all non-life-sustaining businesses to close their physical locations March 19. York Daily Record
Pennsylvania’s two largest cities and several counties are under orders to stay at home starting at 8 p.m. Monday to help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, and school closures have been extended.
Gov. Tom Wolf issued the order Monday afternoon for the counties with the most cases of the coronavirus. The order includes Philadelphia and its surrounding counties, Bucks, Chester, Montgomery and Delaware; Allegheny County, which includes Pittsburgh; and Monroe County in northeastern Pennsylvania.
Together, those counties account for 75% of the state’s 644 confirmed cases of COVID-19.
All public K-12 schools in Pennsylvania will be closed until April 6 at the earliest, according to the state Department of Education.
“If we work together we can prevent more damage to our economy, more damage to our people and to our way of life,” Wolf said Monday.
Pennsylvania’s total coronavirus cases hit 644 with the latest figures from the state Monday afternoon; 6,595 patients have tested negative. Three more coronavirus-related deaths were reported Monday, bringing the state’s total to six.
“Before we can recover we must survive,” Wolf continued.
In addition, enforcement began Monday for non-life-sustaining businesses if their physical locations did not close by 8 a.m. Wolf said state police have told him “only a handful” of businesses were not complying.
Late Sunday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit filed by a gun shop that challenged Wolf’s authority to shutter businesses determined to be “non-life-sustaining.”
Without comment, a majority of the state’s high court denied the petition by a gun shop, a gun purchaser and a law firm to have Wolf’s shutdown order thrown out. The lawsuit had claimed Wolf’s edict violated the Second Amendment right to bear arms and other constitutional rights.
The court also said a legal challenge to Wolf’s order to close law offices had become moot because of subsequent action that lets lawyers work from their physical locations to perform duties deemed essential by county or federal judges.
In a dissenting statement joined by two other justices, Justice David Wecht said Wolf’s order amounts to “an absolute and indefinite prohibition upon the acquisition of firearms by the citizens of this commonwealth — a result in clear tension with the Second Amendment” and the state constitution. He called on Wolf to make some allowance for the in-person sale of firearms.
The Wolf administration has been sorting through nearly 10,000 waiver requests, saying their only consideration is health and safety.
State police spokesman Ryan Tarkowski said Monday that troopers were aiming at voluntary compliance, “not coming in with a hammer at 8:01” a.m., when the enforcement period began.
“Our goal is not to write a giant pile of citations,” he said.
Tarkowski said people who want to report a business that remains open should use non-emergency numbers to call state police or local police. “Please don’t call 911,” Tarkowski said.
The U.S. now has more than 35,200 confirmed cases and 471 deaths across 34 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam as of Sunday night. Globally, more than 14,700 people have died of the virus and 341,365 people have been confirmed to have it, according to the Johns Hopkins University data dashboard.
In other coronavirus news Monday:
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Pa. coronavirus cases by county
Here’s how many cases each county has, according to figures released by the Pennsylvania Department of Health as of March 23:
- Statewide total: 644
- Montgomery County: 129 (1 death)
- Philadelphia County: 128
- Delaware County: 54
- Allegheny County: 48 (1 death)
- Bucks County: 43
- Monroe County: 43 (1 death)
- Chester County: 40
- Lehigh County: 25
- Northampton County: 23 (2 deaths)
- Berks County: 14
- Cumberland County: 12
- York County: 10
- Luzerne County: 10
- Washington County: 7
- Lackawanna County: 7 (1 death)
- Adams County: 6
- Westmoreland County: 6
- Lancaster County: 5
- Butler County: 5
- Lebanon County: 3
- Beaver County: 3
- Pike County: 3
- Wayne County: 3
- Erie County: 3
- Centre County: 3
- Schuylkill: 3
- Franklin County: 1
- Potter County: 1
- Montour County: 1
- Columbia: 1
- Dauphin: 1
- Fayette: 1
- Mercer: 1
- Cambria: 1
What are the symptoms of the coronavirus and what should you do?
According to the CDC, reported illnesses from COVID-19 have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death.
Fever, cough and shortness of breath might appear 2 to 14 days after you’ve been exposed to the virus.
If you think you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus and develop a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as cough or difficulty breathing, call your primary healthcare provider immediately.
With further spread of the virus and disruptions to everyday life expected, officials remind residents to wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
You should also cover coughs and sneezes with your elbow (not your hands), clean surfaces that are frequently touched (such as countertops, light switches and phones), and stay home if you are sick.
People are also asked not to attend large gatherings and to practice “social distancing.”
There is currently neither a vaccine nor an approved treatment for the new, or novel, coronavirus.
While younger people may experience the illness as a bad cold with a fever, the concern is that older people and those who have additional medical conditions will develop a more severe form of COVID-19.
As the disease spreads widely in the population, that could lead to a high number of patients requiring hospitalization for pneumonia or acute lung problems that require the use of a ventilator to breathe.
The Associated Press and USA Today contributed to this article.
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