COVID-19 update: PA expected to 'closely mirror' NY and NJ restaurant closures

Milford. Restaurants and bars in the tristate area will close for on-premise service and move to take-out and delivery only effective 8 p.m. tonight. Movie theaters, gyms, and casinos will close at 8 p.m. In other local news related to the coronavirus pandemic: Dingmans Ferry Senior Center to close, testing offered through health department, Catholic masses suspended, Pike commissioners prohibit large gatherings, utility shut-offs prohibited, cancellations, and more.

16 Mar 2020 | 03:35

Monday, March 16

PA expected to 'closely mirror' NY and NJ restaurant closures

New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut will limit crowd capacity for recreational and social gatherings to 50 people effective by 8 p.m. tonight, according to a press release issued Monday by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy:

● Restaurants and bars will close for on-premise service and move to take-out and delivery only effective at 8 p.m. Restaurants and bars will be provided a waiver for carry-out alcohol.

● Movie theaters, gyms, and casinos will temporarily close effective at 8 p.m.

Murphy said he talked today to Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, and that Pennsylvania is expected to "closely mirror" the measures taken by the other three states.

Murphy said he's taking these actions in conjunction with other governors, including Andrew Cuomo of New York, and Ned Lamont of Connecticut, to slow the spread of coronavirus "amid a lack of federal direction and nationwide standards."

Wolf has already ordered all restaurants and bars to close their dine-in facilities as of 12:01 a.m. today in Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties for 14 days. Businesses that offer carry-out, delivery, and drive-through food and beverage service may continue to do so, but eating and drinking inside restaurants and bars is temporarily prohibited.

The governors of New York, New Jersey, and are also calling on citizens to stay off the roads and refrain from non-essential travel after 8 p.m. at night until further notice, Murphy said Monday. This is not a curfew, he said.

Also on Monday, President Donald Trump and his coronavirus task force issued new guidelines calling on Americans to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people.

Pike County Commissioners limit large public gatherings

The Pike County Commissioners are limiting large public gatherings within non-court-related County facilities. Further, they will move the location of their regularly scheduled 10 a.m. meeting on Wednesday, March 18, from the Training Center to the Administration Building, at 506 Broad St. in Milford.

The Commissioners are providing updates on county-related COVID-19 news at this link. http://bit.ly/pikepa11.

Home-delivered meals

The Pike County Area Agency on Aging will be operating its home-delivered meals program from the Blooming Grove Senior Center and Lackawaxen Senior Center for meal distribution and pick up only.

The Dingmans Ferry Senior Center will close following meal distribution on Tuesday morning, March 17.

The Eastern Pike Center for Active Adults at the Matamoras Fire Department and Saw Creek Center for Active Adults will be closed until further notice.

Any senior in need of nutrition services may call the Pike County Area Agency on Aging's main number: 570-775-5550. The office's staff is contacting any congregate consumers who may be in need of nutrition services or other services during this period.

Testing is available through the health department

For coronavirus testing in Pennsylvania, arrangements must be made in consultation with the health department at 1-877-PA-HEALTH (1-877-724-3258).

Consultation is required for people who are showing symptoms, have no alternative diagnosis, and who meet the following criteria: contact with a confirmed case, residency in a group care setting, are healthcare workers, or are hospitalized.

People who do not meet these criteria do not have to consult with the health department and can be tested through a commercial laboratory.

Utilities prohibited from terminating service

Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission Chair Gladys Brown Dutrieuille on Friday signed an emergency order prohibiting electric, natural gas, water, wastewater, telecommunication and steam utility terminations.

The emergency order also encourages utilities to restore service to customers whose service has been terminated, to the extent they can do so safely.

The moratorium will remain in place for as long as the Proclamation of Disaster, issued by Gov. Tom Wolf on March 6 related to the Coronavirus, is in effect.

Diocese of Scranton suspends all public masses

Until further notice, Bishop Joseph C. Bambera has suspended all masses open to the public and all public gatherings in all diocesan parishes, worship sites, college campuses, chapels and health care facilities in the 11 counties of the Diocese of Scranton, which includes Pike County.

Bishop Bambera said this decision was made upon the advice of medical experts.

“It deeply saddens me to take this temporary action, knowing the depth of the faith of people in the Diocese of Scranton and their desire to celebrate the Holy Eucharist on a regular basis,” Bishop Bambera said. “But with each passing day, the number of people impacted by the coronavirus continues to grow locally and it is clear that we, as a faith community, must do our part in order to help slow the spread of this disease.”

Churches will, however, remain open daily for individual private prayer. The timeframe for each parish is to be determined by its pastor or parish life coordinator.

Scheduled sacramental celebrations, such as weddings, baptisms and funerals, will be permitted, but attendance will be limited to immediate family members and follow any guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The sacraments of the Anointing of the Sick and Reconciliation will be available, when requested individually, by the faithful in cases of serious need.

The bishop’s dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass, which was announced on March 12, remains in effect.

A private Mass will be celebrated daily in the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Scranton, and made available on CTV: Catholic Television of the Diocese of Scranton. On weekdays, the Mass will be broadcast at 12:10 p.m., 3:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. On weekends, the Saturday Vigil Mass will be broadcast at 4 p.m. and rebroadcast on Sunday morning at 10 a.m. The Masses will also be streamed on the Diocese of Scranton’s website (dioceseofscranton.org), made available on the Diocese of Scranton’s social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) and will be accessible on the Diocese of Scranton’s YouTube channel.

Additional resources for individual parishioners to deepen their faith during Lent are also available on the Diocese of Scranton’s website.

Pike County Light and Power says call ahead

Effective immediately, Pike County Light and Power will require all delivery drivers to call 570-832-2988 ext. 358 at least two hours prior to the time of the anticipated delivery to ensure enough staff is on hand to accept the delivery. Whenever possible, consolidate all shipments into as few shipments as possible to minimize the amounts of deliveries we receive.

If you haven’t already, please update your systems to email all invoices to accountspayable@pclpeg.com to limit the amount of physical mail the utility is receiving.

Nursing home closes to visitors

Wayne Woodlands Manor, a skilled nursing facility in Waymart and part of Wayne Memorial Health System, is now officially closed to most visitors to protect residents from the novel coronavirus or COVID-19. The 121-bed home offers long-term care and short-term rehabilitation services.

“We have no cases of the virus on site, and we continue to accept new residents, but out of an abundance of caution and following government recommendations, we are restricting visitation,” said Wayne Woodlands administrator Mike Freund.

Freund said exceptions will be made in end-of-life situations where emotional support is essential to a resident’s well-being. He added that the facility is also encouraging alternate means of communication, such as Facetime and Skype, for families and friends of residents.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the Pennsylvania Department of Health have said repeatedly that people age 60 and over, as well as those with chronic illnesses, are most vulnerable to the virus. Wayne Woodlands is home to many elderly and chronically ill individuals.

“We are also monitoring our staff for symptoms and asking anyone who is sick to stay at home,” Freund said.

Honesdale businesses remain open

Greater Honesdale Partnership, in conjunction with the Chamber of the Northern Poconos and Wayne County Commissioners, said in a Friday press release that they "have surveyed the Honesdale business community on their response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. What we have found is most businesses are choosing to remain open with normal operating hours. Also, they are paying close meticulous attention to keeping surfaces clean and safe for their customers.

"If you are still looking for hand sanitizer, Mount Pleasant Herbary is open with 70 percent alcohol hand sanitizers in 2 sizes. Dave’s Super Duper states they are stocked with toilet paper and other necessities and with normal shipments foresee being fully stocked by Monday. Salvation Army Ladore Lodge is temporarily suspending buffet service but is still holding events. The Cooperage Project will hold its open-air Farmers Market this weekend but is closed until March 27, 2020, Stephen’s Pharmacy and local banks have drive-up services that can be utilized for safer interactions."

State liquor stores cancel events

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board announced on March 14 that Fine Wine & Good Spirits stores throughout the state have indefinitely suspended all of their product tastings, bottle signings, educational seminars, and other group events.

"As retailers, communities and individuals around the world consider ways to help limit the spread and impact of coronavirus, we at the PLCB want to let you know what we’re doing to protect all our valued customers and employees," the control board said in a statement.

Customers can shop at FWGS.com to have wine and spirits delivered directly to them directly.

The control board said it would be guided by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the state Department of Health, and other public health and administration officials.

"We have also reinforced with store employees enhanced cleaning and disinfecting procedures to ensure our retail environments are as sanitary as possible," the control board said.

The board also announced the closure, effective Tuesday, March 17, of Fine Wine & Good Spirits stores in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery counties to help slow the spread of the COVID-19. These stores will remain closed until further notice.For more information, visit lcb.pa.gov.

Schools close

Governor Tom Wolf said Friday all school districts in the state will be closed for the next 10 school days starting on Monday, March 16, with a scheduled reopening on Monday, March 30.

The Delaware Valley School District in Pike County says all five days next week will be treated as snow days, so any school work assigned for the extended break does not apply until all snow days are exhausted. The school's website(dvsd.org) and social media outlets will include updates throughout the closure.

Cancellations

The Center for Developmental Disabilities of Pike County rescheduled its annual Chefs Do Dinner fundraiser. The fundraiser, scheduled for March 25, will now take place on Wednesday, June 3, Best Western Inn at Hunts Landing in Matamoras, announced Christine Rolando, CDD executive director

Practice good trail hygiene

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy urged hikers on Friday to distance themselves from others and maintain good hygiene: "Avoid sharing food. Do not eat out of the same food bag, share utensils or drink from other hikers’ water bottles....Avoid congregating in groups along the Trail....If you are diagnosed with COVID-19 while on the A.T., please submit an incident report at appalachiantrail.org/incidents detailing when you got sick, when and where you got off the Trail and any other helpful information."

Tristate tallies:
Here follows the number of positive cases in the tristate area as of March 16:
New York State: 950, six deaths
Orange County, N.Y: 7
Pennsylvania: 76
Pike County, Pa.: 1
Wayne County, Pa.: 1
Monroe County, Pa.: 8
New Jersey: 98, two deaths
USA: 4,093, 69 deaths