MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Pa. - As the coronavirus outbreak continues to spread throughout the state of Pennsylvania, Governor Tom Wolf addressed the public to explain new plans to prevent further cases Thursday.
Due to the rapid growth in Montgomery County, officials have ordered special provisions. With 13 confirmed positive COVID-19 cases in Montgomery County, public officials are concerned that more cases might arise if preventative measures are not taken.
Gov. Wolf has confirmed that all Montgomery County schools, public spaces, and gathering spaces to be closed for two weeks.
"As you know, since last Friday the number of known COVID-19 cases has grown from 2 to 22," Gov. Wolf said at the beginning of his public address.
He cited the efforts of other cities and countries to control the spread of the COVID-19 as the reason they've decided to begin implementing "social-distancing" efforts statewide.
"In Montgomery County, I am ordering the closure of all schools, community centers, gyms and entertainment venues," Gov. Wolf explained. "This includes all Y's, theaters, sporting events, concerts, and I am strongly recommending the closure of non-essential retail facilities. It includes schools of all types such as pre-K, higher education and private schools."
Gov. Wolf also stated that mass gatherings (of 250 individuals or more) including conferences and rallies should be suspended.
By closing these spaces and establishments, Pennsylvania officials hope that this will prevent the rapid spread of the COVID-19 disease.
"The health and safety of all Pennsylvanians -- that's my primary concern," Gov. Wolf added.
However, critical infrastructure including all healthcare facilities such as pharmacies, adult daycare centers, urgent care facilities, primary facilities, out-patient services, long-term care facilities, and hospitals will remain open.
Gas stations, grocery stores, government offices, public safety and correctional facilities, public health facilities, and utility services will also remain open at this time.
A "no-visitor" policy will be implemented at all correctional facilities and nursing homes.
Officials are also recommending that religious leaders exercise discretion in order to
Essential public transportation services are expected to remain open with some scheduling changes and restrictions.
Amtrak will operate on a reduced schedule and the Ardmore stop will be closed for two weeks beginning Friday. The Wolf Adminstration is working with SEPTA to evaluate "potential impacts" and will provide updates as they come.
While freedom of travel will remain, the governor is asking that people refrain from non-essential travel and is authorizing a 10 workday paid absence for individuals who don't have telework capacities.god
State employees are instructed to work from home if they have to commute to or from Montgomery County.
Late Thursday, PREIT announced Plymouth Meeting Mall and Willow Grove Park will be closed for two weeks effective March 13.
“The health and well-being of our shopper and tenant community is our top priority. With that in mind, we have made the difficult decision to heed the recommendation of state officials by closing its Montgomery County malls,” said Joseph F. Coradino, CEO of PREIT. “Throughout our portfolio, we continue to follow developing news, information and guidelines from federal, state and local health officials concerning public spaces and urge our customers and tenants to take all known safety precautions to prevent and reduce the risk of illness and the spread of disease.”
Valley Forge Casino will close to the public on Friday, March 13 at 6:00 a.m.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.
The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.
WHAT WE DON’T KNOW
The Department of Health is giving few details about patients. It is not saying how many samples it is testing, how many negative tests it has taken or how many people it is monitoring under quarantine. It is also not saying where precisely someone traveled when they were exposed.
At least three medical personnel who treated people who tested positive have also been quarantined, newspapers have reported.
The map below illustrates where confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus exist across the world. See mobile version here.
For the latest local news, sports and weather, download the FOX 29 News app.
DOWNLOAD: FOX 29 NEWS APP