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Pennsylvania stay-at-home order will remain in effect until May 8, governor says

Stay-at-home order in effect until May 8th
Gov. Tom Wolf's stay-at-home order will remain in effect until May 8. The governor made the announcement on Monday during the state's daily coronavirus briefing.

“There is still a statewide stay-at-home order. And that is going to last until May 8th,” Wolf said.

Wolf also said that as the state reopens, it would be done in a phased, sector-based approach. So, some counties may have their stay-at-home orders lifted before others.

Additionally, even as those orders are lifted, the new mitigation measures that have been enacted, such as new regulations for businesses, will remain in place.

You can watch the goveror's full remarks in the video box above.

Wolf's office released the following information Monday afternoon:

"Governor Tom Wolf today announced three actions including online sales of vehicles, which will be enabled by the signing of SB 841, restart of construction projects statewide starting Friday, May 8, and curbside pickup of wine and spirits at select Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board locations.


“'Over the past six weeks, Pennsylvanians have come together like never before to halt the spread of COVID-19,'” said Gov. Wolf. “'It has not been easy, but it has paid off. Today, we are taking small steps toward a degree of normalcy. We are allowing curbside pickup of phone orders at PLCB stores and auto sales will be allowed to take place online. On May 8, construction will resume statewide.

“'I want to caution that we will not be resuming operations as they were in February. We’re going to continue to take precautions that limit our physical contact with others, and we will closely monitor this to see if it can be done safely.'”

"These limited steps forward will be closely observed in the coming days and weeks to ensure that they do not result in a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases, in which case the governor will use his authority under the emergency disaster declaration to resume restrictions to protect public health and safety.

Vehicle Sales May Be Conducted Online

"The governor will sign Senate Bill 841 later today that approves qualified Pennsylvania notaries public to perform remote online notarizations, which will allow auto dealerships to conducted limited car sales and leasing operations through online sales, as a notary is required to complete the transaction. Auto dealerships may continue to remain open for certain activities, such as repairs to passenger and commercial vehicles and sales of auto parts, but in-person car sales or leases are still considered non-life sustaining and remain prohibited at this time.

Construction With Strict Guidelines Resumes Friday, May 8

"Public and private residential and non-residential construction may resume statewide starting Friday, May 8, in accordance with safety guidance that will be issued by the administration shortly. Construction projects already deemed life-sustaining may continue while adhering to social distancing, personnel limits and other guidance as announced by the administration.

PLCB Begins Limited Curbside Pickup

"The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) today began accepting orders by phone for curbside pickup at 176 locations. Phone orders can be placed between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., or until reaching a store’s maximum order capacity each day. Curbside pickups will be scheduled from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. within a few days of order placement. Callers will be guided through each store’s unique inventory. There is a limit of six bottles per order, and credit cards are the only accepted form of payment. At pickup, customers will be required to present identification before the order is delivered.

"ThePLCB website lists the stores offering curbside pickup. PLCB anticipates expanding the service at more locations in the future. The PLCB website, FineWineAndGoodSpirits.com, is also increasing order capacity.

"Curbside sales at Fine Wine and Good Spirits Shoppes will serve as a guide to determine whether certain other non-life-sustaining businesses may be able to resume limited operations through curbside pickup, which is currently only permitted for life-sustaining businesses that offer food and pharmaceuticals.

"The Administration will monitor the implementation of curbside pickup including the safety of the supply chain to determine if broader curbside pick up can be done safely and effectively to provide goods and services, while still limiting the amount of person to person contact not just at retail locations but throughout the supply chain.

Sunday's briefing
On Sunday, Dr. Rachel Levine reported a significant increase in the number of deaths, in the state. She says the additional deaths, were not all reported overnight. According to the Secretary of Health, those numbers are a culmination of a data validating effort. There have now been 1,112 deaths, in adult patients. Dr. Levine added, Pennsylvania's sacrifice to stay at home is working.

A media-only briefing was held Friday. Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said COVID-19 continues to be a challenge for long-term care facilities:

321 facilities affected statewide
3,716 cases among residents
420 cases among employees

New safety requirements for some Pa. employers
The following information is from Gov. Tom Wolf's office:

Gov. Tom Wolf announced in Wednesday's briefing that Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine signed an order directing protections for critical workers who are employed at businesses that are authorized to maintain in-person operations during the COVID-19 disaster emergency.

“'This order provides critical protections for the workers needed to run and operate these life-sustaining establishments,'" Governor Wolf said. "'Businesses across the state have already begun to implement many of these protocols on their own, and we applaud their efforts to protect employees and customers.'"

“'This order will ensure continuity across all life-sustaining businesses and will further our efforts to protect the health and safety of all Pennsylvanians,'" Dr. Levine said. "'Together, we can all help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.'”

"The order establishes protocols to help employees maintain a social distance during work:

Provide masks for employees to wear during their time at the business, and make it a mandatory requirement while at the work site, except to the extent an employee is using break time to eat or drink, in accordance with the guidance from the Department of Health and the CDC. Employers may approve masks obtained or made by employees in accordance with this guidance;
Stagger work start and stop times for employees when practical to prevent gatherings of large groups entering or leaving the premises at the same time;
Provide sufficient space for employees to have breaks and meals while maintaining a social distance of 6 feet, including limiting the number of employees in common areas and setting up seating to have employees facing forward and not across from each other;
Conduct meetings and training virtually. If a meeting must be held in person, limit the meeting to the fewest number of employees possible, not to exceed 10 employees at one time and maintain a social distance of 6 feet.
Ensure that the facility has a sufficient number of employees to perform all measures listed effectively and in a manner that ensures the safety of the public and employees;
Ensure that the facility has a sufficient number of personnel to control access, maintain order, and enforce social distancing of at least 6 feet;
Prohibit non-essential visitors from entering the premises of the business; and
Ensure that all employees who do not speak English as their first language are aware of procedures by communicating the procedures, either orally or in writing, in their native or preferred language.
"Upon discovery of an exposure to a person who is a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19, businesses are also ordered to implement temperature screenings before employees enter the business prior to the start of work and send any employee home who has an elevated temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Sick employees should follow CDC-recommended steps. Employees should not return to work until the CDC criteria to discontinue home isolation are met, in consultation with the health care providers and state and local health departments. Employers are encouraged to implement liberal paid time off for employees who are on home isolation.

"Upon an exposure, businesses are also ordered to do the following:

Close off and ventilate areas visited by that individual;
Wait a minimum of 24 hours, or as long as practical, before beginning cleaning and disinfection;
Clean and disinfect all spaces, especially commonly used rooms and shared electronic equipment;
Identify and notify employees who were in close contact with that individual (within about 6 feet for about 10 minutes); and
Ensure that the business has a sufficient number of employees to perform these protocols effectively and immediately.
"In addition to the social distancing, mitigation and cleaning protocols, businesses that serve the public within a building or defined area are ordered to implement the following, based on the size of the building and number of employees:

Require all customers to wear masks while on premises, and deny entry to individuals not wearing masks, unless the business is providing medication, medical supplies, or food, in which case the business must provide alternative methods of pick-up or delivery of goods, except individuals who cannot wear a mask due to a medical condition (including children the age of 2 years) may enter the premises without having to provide medical documentation;
Conduct business with the public by appointment only and, to the extent that this is not feasible, limit occupancy to no greater than 50 percent of the number stated on their certificate of occupancy as necessary to reduce crowding in the business and at check-out and counter lines in order to maintain a social distance of 6 feet, and place signage throughout each site to mandate social distancing for both customers and employees;
Alter hours of business so that the business has sufficient time to clean or to restock or both;
Install shields or other barriers at registers and check-out areas to physically separate cashiers and customers or take other measures to ensure social distancing of customers from check-out personnel, or close lines to maintain a social distance between of 6 feet between lines;
Encourage use of online ordering by providing delivery or outside pick-up;
Designate a specific time for high-risk and elderly persons to use the business at least once every week if there is a continuing in-person customer-facing component;
In businesses with multiple check-out lines, only use every other register, or fewer. After every hour, rotate customers and employees to the previously closed registers. Clean the previously open registers and the surrounding area, including credit card machines, following each rotation;
Schedule handwashing breaks for employees at least every hour; and
Where carts and handbaskets are available, assign an employee to wipe down carts and handbaskets before they become available to a new customer.
"Failure to comply with these requirements will result in enforcement action that could include citations, fines, or license suspensions. Compliance with the order will be enforced beginning Sunday, April 19 at 8:00 PM.

"The governor has directed the following state agencies and local officials to enforce orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic to the full extent of the law:

Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board
Department of Health
Department of Agriculture
Department of Labor and Industry
Pennsylvania State Police
Local officials, using their resources to enforce closure orders within their jurisdictions
“'It is vital that we require businesses to practice these common-sense and scientifically proven safety protocols for the protection of workers and the public at-large. And that is what this order does,'” said state Senator Tina Tartaglione, Democratic chairwoman of the Senate Labor and Industry Committee. “'Many of the measures included in this order were part of legislation that I proposed. I applaud this swift action by Secretary Levine and Governor Wolf to implement these much needed protocols.'”

"This order follows another order by Dr. Levine providing direction for maintaining and cleaning buildings for businesses authorized to maintain in-person operations under her and Governor Tom Wolf’s life-sustaining business orders announced March 19.

"Governor Tom Wolf also recommends that Pennsylvanians wear a mask any time they leave their homes for life-sustaining reasons."

Data challenges
In Tuesday’s briefing, Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said the state has run into some difficulty collecting certain data, such as the race and ethnicity of COVID-19 patients.

You can watch Levine's remarks below.

Governor delivers address
Gov. Tom Wolf spoke Monday night about Pennsylvania's response to the pandemic and what lies ahead. (Watch the full address below.)

Wolf said the process of making it through the crisis has three stages.

The first stage -- the one we are in now -- involves preventing the healthcare system from being overwhelmed. He said this stage has involved a "host of painful sacrifices," but the strategy of social distancing and shutting down schools and non-essential businesses is working to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Wolf said there's no metric yet for declaring victory, but it will need to involve a drop in the number of new cases and a determination that COVID-19 won't outstrip the ability to treat people with the virus.

The second stage, Wolf said, will be a transitional phase in which we start to reopen our world and our economy. This stage will depend on more and better testing.

The third stage is the new normal. "This will require time along with a recognition that the new ‘normal’ will be different from the old ‘normal’ we had grown used to," Wolf said.

Wolf thanked Pennsylvanians for what they are doing to slow the spread of the virus and acknowledged that it's hard. He said we also need to recognize the fact that we will get through this.

“By doing nothing, by distancing ourselves from others, by staying home we are making a difference. We are saving lives. We are saving our children, our neighbors and our friends. By doing nothing, we are doing something extraordinary."

Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said during Monday's daily briefing that the state is starting to see a plateau in new coronavirus cases.

While the number of COVID-19 cases is still rising, the rate of increase has slowed.

“We have bent that curve,” she said.

Levine said the closures of schools and non-essential businesses, along with the stay-at-home order, are the reasons why the rise in new cases isn't as steep.

“This has been a very difficult and hard sacrifice for Pennsylvanians, but the sacrifice is working. Our case count numbers continue to grow, but we aren’t seeing the doubling of cases, that exponential growth like other countries and states have seen. The number of people who have died also continues to grow, tragically, but it really could be much, much worse. Social distancing works, and the closures are saving lives in Pennsylvania. If we stop those efforts now, our health systems will become overwhelmed, and then more will be lost to this dangerous virus, COVID-19.”

Levine said Pennsylvania has not yet hit the peak for coronavirus cases. Reopening businesses and easing restrictions before the surge would be a mistake, Levine said.

The following information is from the Department of Aging
The Pennsylvania Department of Aging has launched an online COVID-19 resource guide to help older adults easily find useful information related to their health, safety and well-being.

The guide is housed on the department’s website under “COVID-19 Resource Guide for Older Adults” and provides older adults, their families and caregivers with information on a variety of subjects, including meals, prescriptions, protective services, scams, and how to stay active and connected.

“The Department of Aging’s top priority is to ensure that the needs of older Pennsylvanians are being met. This online guide presents an overview of the resources that can help older adults maintain their health and safety during this critical time,” Aging Secretary Robert Torres said. “Our department will continue to monitor these essential needs and make any changes required in our effort to provide uninterrupted services.”

In addition to the COVID-19 resource guide, the department has offered guidance for aging services to help meet the needs of older Pennsylvanians while maintaining safety. This guidance, along with all of the programs that the Department of Aging provides, can be found here.

Huge spikes prevented, but we're not done yet

In Friday’s update, Gov. Tom Wolf noted progress has been made in the fight against the coronavirus, but he also urged Pennsylvanians to remain focused and to continue social distancing.

“I want to thank everyone for your diligent efforts to remain informed about the spread of COVID-19 and for your continuing to do your part in helping us stop the (spread) of this deadly virus,” Wolf said. “We have prevented the huge spikes in cases that we’ve seen in other places. But I just want to emphasize that we’re not yet done. If we begin to slip in our efforts to distance ourselves socially, we could very easily see explosive growth rates.”

Wolf also said the state is taking steps to help hospitals, which are simultaneously dealing with COVID-19 and huge revenue losses. To prevent hospitals going bankrupt, Wolf announced the new Hospital Emergency Loan Program.

“This is a $450 million low-interest loan package that will provide immediate working capital that will allow our medical facilities to get the personal equipment and the personal protective equipment they need,” Wolf said.

You can watch the governor's full remarks above. Please note, due to weather conditions the video breaks up periodically.

Pa. schools closed for rest of academic year

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