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New Temporary COVID-19 Restrictions Announced for Pennsylvania

December 10, 2020

During a press conference this afternoon, Governor Tom Wolf highlighted the continuing surge in COVID-19 cases across the state, adding that new temporary restrictions are necessary to stop the spread of COVID-19 and avoid overwhelming the state’s hospitals and health care delivery system. Governor Wolf also stressed that the new restrictions are being put into place to help keep Pennsylvanians as safe as possible during the upcoming holidays.

Via press release yesterday, Governor Wolf announced that he had tested positive during a routine test for COVID-19. It was announced earlier today that First Lady Frances Wolf has tested negative for the infection.

The new restrictions will be effective from 12:01 a.m. on December 12 at through 8 a.m. on January 4 and include:

  • Indoor dining is prohibited at restaurants, breweries, wineries, distilleries, social clubs, and private catered events. Outdoor dining and take-out sales of food and alcohol is permitted
  • Gatherings are limited to 10 people inside and 50 outdoors. Churches, synagogues, temples, mosques and other places of worship are excluded
  • In-person businesses serving the public are limited to 50 percent capacity
  • Indoor operations at gyms and fitness facilities are prohibited. Outdoor classes may continue but participants must wear facial coverings and practice physical distancing
  • All businesses related to the entertainment industry are prohibited from operating, including theaters, concerts, museums, arcades, casinos, bowling alleys, private clubs, and other similar facilities
  • In-person, extracurricular school activities may continue virtually, but not in person. All K-12 school sport and club, travel, recreational, intermural, and intramural sports are prohibited. Professional or collegiate sports will be permitted

During the conference, Dr. Meda Higa, an assistant professor at York College, stressed the importance of wearing a mask to protect others from the virus and the importance of continuing mitigation strategies and said that, even under perfect conditions, the threat of spread is not eliminated, only reduced. Dr. Higa added that studies surrounding the pandemic support the new restrictions.

Geisinger's President and CEO Jaewon Ryu, MD, shared that COVID-19 patients have spiked to concerning numbers at Geisinger’s facilities, in addition to a significant increase in positive test results. As a result, Geisinger has scaled back non-emergent procedures.  Dr. Ryu added that COVID-19 patients are not just elderly, but all age groups are being affected. He said that health system workers, and all Pennsylvania’s health care workers, deserve praise for managing the increasing number of patients. Dr. Ryu also stressed the importance of, and his support for, the new mitigation strategies being put into place in the state.

Next, Christopher DeFlitch, MD, Penn State Health, spoke about the long fight against COVID-19. He highlighted the things that hospitals have learned since the spring that are benefitting COVID-19 treatment: segregating patients, what medications work best for different symptoms, home care options for COVID-19 patients and the valuable increase in telemedicine services. Dr. DeFlitch stressed the importance of mask wearing and other ways to help protect others from the continuing spread of COVID-19. Remaining diligent about keeping up mitigation efforts will go a long way to keep everyone safe.

This week, HAP implemented a social media campaign with the help of member hospitals and health systems to spread the word via social media channels about the importance of following the mitigation strategies to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Social media graphics also are available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Pennsylvania’s Department of Health.

Pennsylvania’s hospitals continue to closely monitor the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in their individual hospitals and employ many different strategies to make sure patients—COVID and non-COVID alike—have access to the care they need.

For more information, contact Laura Stevens Kent, HAP’s senior vice president, strategic integration, or Robert Shipp, PhD, BSN, RN, NEA-BC, HAP’s vice president, population health and clinical affairs.