As COVID-19 surges in Pa., Wolf issues stay-at-home advisory, but it's not an order
Pennsylvania has issued a stay-at-home health advisory in response to the current surge in the coronavirus pandemic.
The advisory urges all residents to stay at home to the greatest extent possible due to the rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the state, according to the memo signed by Gov. Tom Wolf.
Residents should only leave home to go to work or school, or for essential needs, like seeking medical care, going to the grocery store or pharmacy, picking up food or exercising.
The advisory, issued Monday morning, will remain in place through Jan. 4, 2021, unless an additional advisory is issued.
Is this an order?
Note, the advisory is just that — advice — and doesn't carry any penalties. Though Secretary of Health Rachel Levine pleaded for people to stay at home "unless absolutely necessary," and discouraged people from traveling during the holidays.
When not at home, Wolf said, individuals must wear a face covering and practice physical distancing by staying at least 6 feet away from others and frequent hand hygiene.
"We all need to commit to wearing a mask and staying home wherever possible," Wolf said.
Household gatherings are also advised against when attendees include non-household members, according to the advisory. Pennsylvania's universal masking order was updated last week to require mask-wearing anywhere in the commonwealth indoors, as well as outdoors if physical distance is not able to be maintained.
Wolf has also re-issued orders requiring businesses to enforce cleaning and social distancing requirements and mandatory telework unless impossible.
On Monday, the state Department of Health reported an additional 11,837 positive cases for a statewide total of 314,401. Already, at least 9,870 Pennsylvania residents have died from the coronavirus.
Pa. puts new limits on indoor and outdoor gatherings
New restrictions were also put on indoor and outdoor events. Levine said indoor gatherings of 500 people are now prohibited, as are events with 2,500 or more people outside.
Levine said those new orders will be enforced by law enforcement and could result in consequences for repeat offenders.
"Orders already in place and those announced today will be enforced, and law enforcement and state agencies will be stepping up enforcement efforts, issuing citations and fines and possible regulatory actions," Levine said.
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Last week, Levine rolled out a number of "targeted efforts" to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, including an order that requires anyone who enters Pennsylvania to be tested within 72 hours of arriving.
If someone cannot or does not get a negative test, they must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. The order took effect on Nov. 20, and the only exception to that rule was for those who commute to neighboring states for work or health care.
More:Pennsylvania could run out of ICU beds by next week as COVID patients overwhelm hospitals
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