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Centre County Added to 'Stay at Home' Order

by on March 28, 2020 12:13 PM

Centre County has been added to Pennsylvania's "stay at home" order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, Gov. Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine announced on Saturday.

Beaver and Washington counties also were added, bringing the total number of counties under the order to 22. The order goes into effect for the newly added counties at 8 p.m. Saturday and continues until April 6.

"If you live in a county under a stay at home order, you should not leave your home unless you absolutely must, because ultimately someone's life depends on you staying home" Wolf said on Saturday afternoon.

Individuals may still leave their homes for a wide range of activities such as getting groceries or medication, visiting a health care professional, caring for loved ones and outdoor exercise. According to a news release from the governor's office the list of allowed activities and travel includes:

- 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, for their family or household members, or as part of volunteer efforts, or to deliver those services or supplies to others to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences

- 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

- Any travel related to the provision of or access to the above-mentioned individual activities or life-sustaining business activities

- Travel to care for elderly, minors, dependents, persons with disabilities, or other vulnerable persons

- Travel to or from educational institutions for purposes of receiving materials for distance learning, for receiving meals, and any other related services

- Travel to return to a place of residence from an outside jurisdiction

- Travel required by law enforcement or court order

- Travel required for non-residents to return to their place of residence outside the commonwealth

- Anyone performing life-sustaining travel does not need paperwork to prove the reason for travel.

Business activities that have been previously deemed life-sustaining, health care or medical services providers, emergency responders, news media, religious institutions, federal government and access to life-sustaining services for low-income individuals are all exempt from the order. Individuals experiencing homelessness are not subject to the order but are strongly encouraged to find shelter.

"At this time, law enforcement will be focused on ensuring that residents are aware of the order and informing the public of social distancing practices rather than enforcement," the news release said. "To report a noncompliant business, contact your local law enforcement agency’s non-emergency number or the nearest Pennsylvania State Police station. Please do not call 911 or the Department of Community and Economic Development to file reports."

Centre County has 15 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including four new positive tests reported on Saturday. Statewide there have been 2,751 cases and 34 deaths.

"What we’re trying to do in expanding this is to do this in a measured way and expand the stay at home order where we’re concerned, and the people in Centre County many of whom are concerned, that this is getting to a point where we really need to do more than we’ve done in the past," Wolf said.

"The stay at home order in Centre County was applied there as it was in other places because we think the need is there to up the game and make sure people are staying home and that we’re doing even more to keep ourselves safe, to keep ourselves from infecting other people."

Levine said a number of factors are considered before making a decision on stay-at-home orders, including the number of cases within a county and in contiguous counties, rate of change and consultation with county commissioners and health authorities.

Counties on the stay-at-home list now include Allegheny, Beaver, Berks, Bucks, Butler, Centre, Chester, Delaware, Erie, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lehigh, Luzerne, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia, Pike, Washington, Wayne, Westmoreland and York.

“As the COVID-19 situation is ongoing, I will continue to work with the residents Centre County and the governor’s office to get as much information as possible so that we can comply with the governor’s order during this limited time and continue to operate in a responsive way to the pandemic," state Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Benner Township, said in a statement. "This includes seeking input from the governor on benchmarks that need to be met in order for the county to emerge from this status.”



Geoff Rushton is managing editor for StateCollege.com. Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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