GOV. WOLF ANNOUNCES NEW RULES TO MITIGATE WINTER COVID THREAT
“As our hospitals and health care system are facing greater strain, we need to redouble our efforts to keep people safe,” Governor Tom Wolf said in an announcement last week. “If our health care system is compromised, it isn’t only COVID-19 patients who will suffer. If we run out of hospital beds, or if hospital staff are overworked to the breaking point, care will suffer for every patient – including those who need emergency care for illnesses, accidents, or chronic conditions unrelated to COVID-19.”
With new modeling projecting 22,000 new COVID-19 cases per day in Pennsylvania in December, Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine announced new targeted mitigation measures to help stop the spread during this critical time. These include a robust enforcement plan targeted at chronic violators, along with an effort to ensure schools are safe and in compliance with COVID safety plans. The administration is also encouraging Pennsylvanians to limit unnecessary travel and stay at home.
In the previous week, the number of COVID-19-attributable deaths has quadrupled, and the average daily case count is seven times higher than it was two months ago.
Dr. Levine said modeling available from the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington projects that Pennsylvania will run out of intensive care beds in December.
The IHME’s modeling also projects that if mitigation efforts are not adhered to, Pennsylvania could have more than 32,000 deaths from COVID-19 by Feb. 23, 2021 – that’s in just three months. With universal mask-wearing, those deaths can be reduced by half.
“As the Secretary of Health, I have issued a series of advisories and orders intended to help stop the spread during this critical time, to protect our hospitals, our health care workers and the lives of our fellow Pennsylvanians,” Dr. Levine said. “Our collective responsibility continues to be to protect our communities, our health care workers and our most vulnerable Pennsylvanians from COVID-19. That has not changed.”
The new measures include revamped school safety attestation, targeted business and gathering restrictions, and a new enforcement plan that includes liability protection for businesses enforcing the Secretary of Health’s strengthened mask-wearing order. The administration is also advising all Pennsylvanians to limit unnecessary travel and keep gatherings held in homes to members of the same household.
The administration as of Monday is requiring Pre-K to 12 public schools in counties that have been in the substantial transmission level for at least two consecutive weeks to commit to safety measures to ensure the safety and well-being of students and educators. If they choose not to, they must move to fully remote learning without all extra-curricular activities. As of Friday, Nov. 20, there were 59 counties in the substantial transmission level for at least two consecutive weeks.
As Pennsylvania sees an increase in cases, the commonwealth is strengthening gathering restrictions. All large events and gatherings are now reduced until further notice.
• All indoor and outdoor events/ gatherings categories size limits will be reduced
• New limits are as follows:
Maximum Occupancy Calculator for indoor events:?
Allowable Indoor Rate? 0-2,000 people? 10 percent of Maximum Occupancy?
2,001 - 10,000 people? 5 percent of Maximum Occupancy?
Over 10,000 people? No events over 500 people?
Maximum Occupancy Calculator for outdoor events:?
Maximum Occupancy? Allowable Outdoor Rate?
0-2,000 people?15 percent of Maximum Occupancy?
2,001 - 10,000 people? 10 percent of Maximum Occupancy?
Over 10,000 people? 5 percent of Maximum Occupancy?up to 2,500 people?
• Household gatherings are also advised against when attendees include non-household members, as noted through the Secretary of Health’s Stay at Home Advisory.
• Indoor dining may continue; takeout is encouraged.
Wolf’s order calls for local officials to enforce orders and engage their communities to face the increasing threat to publci health.
“As Pennsylvanians, we have a responsibility to one another, to do what we can to protect each other and preserve the life we all love in this commonwealth,” Wolf said. “For those who refuse to do their part to protect their neighbors and communities and refuse to accept that their actions have consequences that cause pain and suffering for others, we will be stepping up enforcement of all of the public health orders Dr. Levine and I have put in place.
“We are in a very dangerous situation, and we need to work together to stop the spread of COVID-19 right now because if we give in to the virus, we will lose many more Pennsylvanians. And that is unacceptable.”
The complete release can be found at www.governor.pa.gov/newsroom