Governor Wolf on Saturday sent the message that he wants non-essential businesses to close in an effort to flatten the curve for the spread of COVID-19 in the Philadelphia region.
Wolf announced new restrictions for Bucks and Chester counties advising non-essential businesses to close their doors, saying his recommendations do not apply to grocery stores, pharmacies and gas stations.
The same restrictions were put into place for Montgomery and Delaware Counties Friday.
“Over the past two days, we enacted significant social distancing in Montgomery and Delaware counties and, starting Sunday, we will expand these mitigation efforts to Bucks and Chester County,” Wolf said.
Wolf ordered schools and all state-licensed child- and adult-care centers to close. All other schools – including private, parochial, and institutions of higher education – should be consulted directly for the most up to date information.
All non-essential stores should close to protect their customer base and employees, Wolf said. If non-essential stores remain open, he advised they should be taking precautions to protect customers and employees.
“Pennsylvania has taken a different approach than most other states and countries,” Gov. Wolf said. “We’re trying to approach the coronavirus outbreak in a measured way. Where there is evidence of exposure to COVID-19, the commonwealth has taken decisive action. Closing schools and early learning centers – both public and private, prohibiting visitors from entering senior care and long-term care facilities, and closing government offices. We will continue to monitor this situation as it unfolds to determine if – and when – we will do this in other counties in Pennsylvania.”
State wine and liquor stores will be shut down Tuesday in Bucks, Montgomery, Chester, and Delaware counties too, Wolf said.
“I cannot conceive of anyone wanting to do the wrong thing,” Wolf said about the strong recommendation that businesses cease operations to mitigate the spread of the virus.
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases is 63 as of Sunday 12 p.m.
The 16 additional positive cases of COVID-19— one in Allegheny County; one in Bucks County; two in Cumberland County; one in Delaware County; one in Lehigh County; one in Luzerne County; three in Monroe County; four in Montgomery County; and two in Philadelphia County. All are either in isolation at home or being treated at the hospital, officials said.
Bucks County’s currently has four cases confirmed, according to state data.
“This situation is quickly evolving, even for us here at the Department of Health,” Dr. Levine said. “It can be overwhelming and scary to hear that you should stay home” Levine said ” Aside from practicing good health habits, we want you to practice good self-care to ensure your body is getting the proper nutrients from fruits, vegetables and getting enough sleep.”
The total number of new cases has more than tripled since Friday (22).
As this situation evolves, we will continually update Pennsylvanians through our website, health.pa.gov, our Facebook page and our Twitter account,” Dr. Levine said. “It’s important to remember that the most accurate and timely information regarding this outbreak is available through the Department of Health.”
Pennsylvania has received approval from the federal government to allow schools the option to distribute meals at no cost while schools are closed, Department of Education Sec. Pedro Rivera said.
“PDE is partnering with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, other state agencies, the American Red Cross, and public and private partners to expand these efforts,” he said.
Six state parks in Bucks County were also closed as of Sunday.
The Bucks County Commissioners urged residents to stay calm and use common sense after Gov. Wolf ordered the enhanced restrictions for Bucks and Chester in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“There is no need to panic,” Commissioner Gene DiGirolamo said at a news briefing after the governor’s announcement. “We’re going to get through this, and we’re going to get through this together if we all just use common sense and if we all look out for one another.
Editors Note: Ms Joanne Ames contributed to this report.