All of Pennsylvania now under governor's stay at home order

Milford. “The stay at home order is a more urgent request for people to remain at home during this public health crisis,” said commissioners chair Matthew Osterberg. Tourists are discouraged as officials move to restrict short-term rentals and bus service. The governor shuts down schools indefinitely. Staff member at Pike County jail tests positive. Pike County commissioners to meet online. Hospital changes maternity visitation policy, asks for face masks. Pennsylvania State Police to limit contact. Wolf reopens gun shops. The Pennsylvania's April 28 primary election will be delayed until June 2.

02 Apr 2020 | 02:31

'A more urgent request' to stay home goes statewide

Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine announced that all 67 Pennsylvania counties will be under stay-at-home orders effective Wednesday, April 1, at 8 p.m.

“This is the most prudent option to stop the spread of COVID-19 across our commonwealth, where cases continue to grow daily,” Gov. Wolf said. “We appreciate the shared sacrifice of all 12.8 million Pennsylvanians; we are in this together and this statewide stay-at-home order is being made after many discussions with multiple state agencies; Dr. Levine; and state, county and local officials as we continue to monitor the most effective ways to save lives and stop the spread of COVID-19.”

Pike was added last week which, until Wednesday, was a patchwork approach to stay-at-home orders.

Exceptions include working at a business that's still open, going to the grocery store or pharmacy, visiting a doctor, caring for a relative, or heading outside to exercise. (See below for fuller list of exceptions.)

The expanded order comes as coronavirus cases escalate. As of April 2, Pike County had 68 confirmed cases of and one death.

The Pike County Commissioners are urging municipal officials and homeowner associations to get this information to their residents, along with a reminder to them to be ever more vigilant about social distancing.

“The stay at home order is a more urgent request for people to remain at home during this public health crisis,” said commissioners chair Matthew Osterberg. “For example, try to get groceries once per week instead of daily, and refrain from all non-essential travel. With the warm weather and beautiful days we have been experiencing, take the opportunity to be outside in your yard or enjoy a walk along one of Pike County’s many trails while practicing social distancing.”

Essential Pike County government services continue to operate. Visit PikePA.org or call the commissioners office at 570-296-7613 for more information.

For the latest local information and updates regardingCOVID-19, please visit the Pike County Government website at www.PikePA.org andclick on the “Coronavirus COVID-19 Updates” icon.The public can access the latest state and federal information on COVID-19 at Health.Pa.gov, the PA Department of Health website.

Tourists discouraged

Gov. Wolf said he will remove short-term rentals like Airbnb from the list of “life-sustaining” businesses exempted from the shutdown. The Poconos are an attraction for out-of-state tourists, who are being blamed for the recent sharp uptick of coronavirus cases. Monroe County, just to the south of Pike County, has 278 cases and 8 deaths, the most per capita in Pennsylvania.

U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright (PA-08) called on Greyhound Lines to limit its bus service between Northeastern Pennsylvania and greater New York City to people traveling for essential purposes only. He pointed to the "significant, sustained rise" in COVID-19 cases in both areas.

“My district in Northeastern Pennsylvania is the closest Pennsylvania congressional district to greater New York City,” Cartwright said in his letter. “At present, every county in my congressional district is under a 'shelter in place' order from Pennsylvania’s governor due to the outbreak."

New York City leads the world in its number of coronavirus cases. As of Wednesday, the city reported 47,439 cases,

“I do realize that Greyhound buses serve as the only or best means of travel for some essential travelers,” Cartwright said. “But, as COVID-19 continues to spread across the country, I think it is temporarily imperative to do everything in our power to slow that spread, especially from areas of a higher rate of infection to areas of lower rates. Hospitals will need this lessening effect to be realized in order to keep up with the numbers of critically ill patients who need emergency treatment.”

Wolf shuts down Pennsylvania schools indefinitely

(AP) President Trump declared a major disaster in Pennsylvania on Monday night, allows for federal assistance to supplement state, tribal and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said he knows the extended shutdown of businesses, schools and swaths of daily life "isn't easy to hear," but is necessary to save lives and keep hospitals from becoming overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients.

Staff member at Pike County jail tests positive

The county commissioners said a staff member at the Pike County Correctional Facility tested positive for coronavirus on March 24. The staff member has been quarantined at home since March 18.

Inmates that had direct contact with the person are now under quarantine. Other staff who had contact with the person were sent home to self-quarantine.

Elevated cleaning and sanitizing protocols, which had been in place, will continue. Inmates and staff are reminded to frequently wash their hands, and to cover their coughs and sneezes. Staff have been advised to immediately report any illnesses, of either staff or inmates, to a supervisor, the commissioners said.

There are so far no positive COVID-19 cases among correctional facility inmates or detainees, the commissioners said.

Commissioners to meet online
The Pike County Commissioners will hold its next regularly scheduled public meeting at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, April 15. Details on the livestream or online meeting access will be provided in advance. For more information visit PikePA.org.

Hospital changes maternity visitation policy

Wayne Memorial Hospital in Honesdale will now permit one visitor to accompany a pregnant patient who is an established patient of the Women’s Health Center, a Wayne Memorial Community Health Center obstetrical practice. Screening measures for COVID-19 will be done with the patient and her presumed visitor, such as her spouse or partner, at Wayne Memorial in advance of admission.

This update negates a policy put in place a few days ago that prohibited any visitors. That policy was prompted by hospitals in New York State to ban visitors, which led to Wayne Memorial receiving calls to admit pregnant women from New York and other high-risk areas.

“We were concerned about safety,” said James Pettinato, RN, Director of Patient Care Services. “We felt our only choice was to follow New York’s lead and not risk the safety of our patients and staff by overwhelming our relatively small rural health system with potentially-exposed patients.”

Shortly afterwards, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order demanding hospitals not prohibit visitors with pregnant patients — in other words, a mom-to-be should now be allowed a visitor.

“The governor’s measure lifted some of the anticipated burden for those patients off our shoulders, as did the CDC travel advisory, also issued Saturday," Pettinato said.

Wayne Memorial CEO David L. Hoff said the hospital did not expect to admit any pregnant patients who were not established with the Women’s Health Center, but no one would be turned away.

“We have stricter measures for this population group and their visitors, depending on where they are from and how much if any potential exposure they may have had to the virus," he said.

Pettinato added that in the event a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 maternity patient were to be admitted, the hospital has provisions to separate them from patients who are not positive and those who might be.

For more information visit wmh.org.

Face masks wanted

The hospital also asked for homemade masks. "If you sew or quilt, we could use more face masks for our staff," said a March 31 Faceblok posting. "Please email askwmh@wmh.org for patterns. Thank you to those who have already donated -- your work is appreciated!" Milford's face mask making group recently launched.

Pennsylvania State Police to limit contact

(AP) Pennsylvania State Police will no longer respond in person to some types of calls as the agency tries to limit troopers' contact with the public and slow the spread of the coronavirus, officials announced Wednesday.

Calls for lost and found, littering, identity theft and general requests to speak to a trooper are among the types of calls that will now be resolved with "limited or no-scene response," state police said in a news release. The new policy took effect Wednesday and will be in place until further notice.

State police said troopers will continue to respond to emergencies.

State Police Commissioner Col. Robert Evanchick says the new policy only applies to a "limited number of call types" and that police will continue responding to critical calls.

State police barracks remain open to the public, though the agency has asked that residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 or are displaying symptoms to stay away and call instead. Others should be mindful of social distancing guidelines, the agency said.

Online orders for liquor resume

All Fine Wine & Good Spirits stores are closed until further notice. However, the PLCB is accepting limited numbers of online orders at FineWineAndGoodSpirits.comOpens In A New Window.

Until further notice, customers can purchase up to six bottles per transaction from a reduced catalogue of about 1,000 top-selling wines and spirits from the website. All orders must be shipped to home or non-store addresses, and only one order per address will be fulfilled per day.

Wolf reopens gun shops

Even as he ordered residents of another county to stay at home, Gov. Tom Wolf on March 24 quietly allowed gun shops to reopen on a limited basis during the coronavirus pandemic after several justices of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court urged him to do so.

Firearms dealers may now sell their wares by individual appointment during limited hours as long as they comply with social distancing guidelines and take other measures to protect employees and customers from the coronavirus, the governor's office said. Wolf's office did not announce the policy change. It was included on an updated list of businesses that are subject to his order to close their physical locations because they have been deemed "non-life-sustaining.''

"I am extremely pleased that Governor Wolf has acknowledged that he may not eviscerated citizens' inviolate rights, regardless of any states of emergency that may exist,'' said Joshua Prince, who had filed suit on behalf of a gun shop and a would-be gun purchaser.

Primary date delay

The House voted preliminarily to delay Pennsylvania's April 28 primary election for five weeks, until June 2. The Republican-sponsored amendment would also let counties consolidate polling places, in part because some are currently located within long-term care facilities and because many poll workers are older people who are particularly at risk from COVID-19. Primary voters will choose candidates for the presidential race, congressional seats, both chambers of the Legislature and the row offices. The House employed special remote voting procedures adopted as a result of the pandemic, and one leader, Minority Whip Jordan Harris, D-Philadelphia, wore rubber gloves and used a mask to protect himself.

What the stay at home order means
Individuals may leave their residence only for the following reasons:
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 or their family or household members, or to deliver those services or supplies to others, such as getting food and household consumer products, pet food, and supplies necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences. This includes volunteer efforts to distribute meals and other life-sustaining services to those in need.
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.
To travel to or from educational institutions for purposes of receiving materials for distance learning,for receiving meals, and any other related services.
To return to a place of residence from an outside jurisdiction.
To travel as required by law enforcement or court order.
“The stay at home order is a more urgent request for people to remain at home during this public health crisis. For example, try to get groceries once per week instead of daily, and refrain from all non-essential travel. With the warm weather and beautiful days we have been experiencing, take the opportunity to be outside in your yard or enjoy a walk along one of Pike County’s many trails while practicing social distancing.” Pike County Commissioner Matthew Osterberg