Pennsylvania's new requirements on testing, mask wearing go into effect on Friday
HARRISBURG, Pa. - Pennsylvania's reinforced coronavirus requirements take effect on Friday as the state tries to contain a surge in new positive infections ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.
The beefed-up mitigation efforts were announced on Tuesday by Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine, and include new testing requirements and tightened mask orders. Levine called the orders "targeted and strategic actions."
Anyone traveling to Pennsylvania from another state will now be required to be tested up to 72 hours prior to arrival. If you do not have test results before coming to the state, then you would need to quarantine until you get a negative test result.
If you can't get a test or are waiting for results, you must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.
Dr. Levine noted that the testing and quarantine requirements do not apply to people who commute to and from another state for work or for medical treatment. Instead, those people are encouraged to work remotely or download the state's COVID Alert app.
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Under the strengthened mask orders, masks are still required to be worn indoors and outdoors. Now, masks are required indoors any time you are with people from outside your household.
This also applies if you have people in your home who are not part of your household.
Dr. Levine, when asked about enforcement of the new orders, stated that everyone has a responsibility to follow the orders and guidance to help slow the spread.
Like the rest of the nation, Pennsylvania has seen coronavirus infections explode in recent weeks. The state is reporting more than 5,000 new infections per day, with spikes in hospitalizations and deaths as well.
Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine speaks at a coronavirus press conference. (Office of Gov. Tom Wolf)
On Thursday, the state announced over 7,000 new cases, bringing the statewide total to 288,978. Over 100 new deaths were also reported for a total of 9,581 since the start of the pandemic.
Dr. Levine said Tuesday's report from the White House Coronavirus Task Force shows "there is now aggressive, unrelenting, expanding, broad community spread across the country, reaching most counties without evidence of improvement, but rather, further deterioration. Current mitigation efforts are inadequate and must be increased to flatten the curve to sustain the health systems for both COVID and non-COVID emergencies."
To address the potential issues that come with increased hospitalizations, Levine issued a memorandum to acute-care hospitals outlining expectations to care for Pennsylvanians who need care during the pandemic.
The memo calls on those hospitals to work through the established health-care coalitions to prepare for how they will support one another in the event that a hospital becomes overwhelmed.
Hospitals are also being asked to work to move up elective procedures, where necessary, and prepare to suspend them, should the health-care system become strained.
In addition, Dr. Levine said Pennsylvania's colleges and universities would be required to develop testing strategies to prevent outbreaks among students, especially when they return back to campus after the holiday season.
Governors and mayors around the country have been tightening restrictions in response to the worsening pandemic. On Monday, Philadelphia said it would ban indoor gatherings and indoor dining and shutter casinos, gyms, museums and libraries.
Pennsylvania also has existing statewide limits on indoor and outdoor gatherings and occupancy restrictions at bars and restaurants.
Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf imposed a state-at-home order and shuttered businesses deemed “non-life-sustaining” early in the pandemic, but Wolf and Levine have consistently said they have no intention of implementing another broad-based shutdown.
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