Pennsylvania expands mask mandate as coronavirus cases rise

Pennsylvania expands mask mandate as coronavirus cases rise

PA possibly out of ICU beds soon, stricter rules imposed |

An expanded mask mandate was also announced Tuesday. The state is reporting more than 5,000 new infections per day, up more than 115% in just two weeks.

Harrisburg, PA- As Pennsylvania experiences a resurgence of COVID-19 cases with significantly higher daily case counts than in the spring and hospitalizations on the rise, the Wolf Administration has identified four new mitigation efforts, which Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine announced Tuesday afternoon.

Dr. Levine says anyone traveling to Pennsylvania must have a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours prior to entering the state, "If you do not have your test result when you come to Pennsylvania, then you need to quarantine until you get a negative test result".

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This order takes effect this Friday but does not apply to people who commute to and from another state for work or medical treatment.

Health officials have said the unrelenting spread of the virus this fall is partly attributable to small indoor gatherings, and it remains to be seen how many COVID-fatigued Pennsylvania residents will heed Levine's order to mask up inside homes and in other buildings where the state's reach is limited. That is almost 50 more ICU covid patients than Monday.

Hospitalizations are increasing, as are ICU patients, and according to modeling from the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, which does not take into account hospitalizations from influenza, Pennsylvania will run out of intensive care beds in December if ICU admissions continue at the current rate.

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While they are mandated orders, Levine says there are no plans to track these protocols or punish people who do not follow the orders.

On Tuesday, Levine did not rule out additional mitigation measures. "(We) really want people to stay at home".

"We must remain united in stopping COVID-19", Dr. Levine said. Hospitals should also be working to move up elective procedures necessary to protect a person's health and prepare to suspend them if our health care system becomes strained.

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Levine recommended that colleges and universities lay out a testing plan for when students return to campus after the holidays and secure enough space for isolation and quarantining. Both Levine and Gov. Tom Wolf have repeatedly stated that they have no plans to go back to a color-coded restriction system, like the red, yellow, and green phases used at the beginning of the pandemic. The state's restrictions on bars and restaurants remain the same, as well as local school district guidance.

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