(Natural News) Pennsylvania’s top health official announced new coronavirus public health orders in the state following a rise of COVID-19 cases there. Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine announced the new rules Nov. 17, exhorting residents to “stay at home, stay in their household, and not to travel.” Pa. recently reported more than 5,000 new cases daily, and more than 2,700 people are now hospitalized – nearing the state’s almost 3,000 record back in May.
Beginning Nov. 20, anyone who wishes to enter the state – whether a resident coming home or a traveler – must undergo COVID-19 testing at least 72 hours before arrival. Those who cannot or will not be tested must quarantine themselves for 14 days. However, Levine clarified that the testing requirement does not apply to those commuting to and from another state to work or receive medical treatment.
The health secretary said Pa. has no plans to enforce the measure, but emphasized the importance of voluntary compliance to the new COVID-19 testing rule. “We have no plans at this time to [check] for tests as people come off airplanes or drive into Pennsylvania,” Levine said.
Besides the testing requirement, Levine also announced a strengthening of the state’s existing mask mandate. Face masks are now required indoors whenever people from different households congregate, regardless if social distancing is observed. The new rules also applies to all indoor facilities – including private homes.
“If [people] do not wear masks [and] do not social distance, then those communities are going to see even more spread of COVID-19,” she commented. Levine remarked that the measures shall remain in effect until further notice.
Levine also tapped schools and hospitals in the fight against rising coronavirus cases
Both the state’s Department of Health and Department of Education advised colleges and universities to implement a testing plan for students returning to campus following the holidays. The two departments recommended educational institutions to establish routine protocols for testing, ensure adequate spaces for isolation and quarantine and enforce public health mandates on their campuses.
They recommended colleges and universities to test all their students at the start of each term and when they return to campus after a break, and to regularly test them throughout the school year.
In a separate letter, Levine asked hospitals to move up elective surgeries. She added that they should be prepared to postpone similar procedures in case their facilities become flooded with coronavirus patients. If this happens, Levine called on medical facilities to “work diligently with patients” to make sure they understand that any procedures can and will be delayed and re-scheduled if COVID-19 cases in the state shoot up.
“What we ask everyone is to stand united and stop the spread in Pennsylvania,” the health secretary said. (Related: Judge rules PA governor’s shutdown orders to be unconstitutional.)
Other states have bolstered coronavirus restrictions in anticipation of a second wave
Pennsylvania was not the only state in the mid-Atlantic area that implemented new public health restrictions. The nearby states of New York and New Jersey also followed suit amid a rise in infections.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced tighter restrictions Nov. 11, limiting the number of maximum attendees in both indoor and outdoor gatherings at private residences to 10 people. He also mandated fitness centers, gyms, bars and restaurants to close from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. Restaurants will still be permitted to offer curbside pick-up and delivery beyond 10 p.m., but only food will be permitted and no alcohol will be sold.
Meanwhile, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy tightened restrictions previously rolled back during the summer. Indoor gatherings in the state will now be limited to a maximum of 10 persons, while outdoor gatherings will be limited to 150 with strict mask-wearing and social distancing protocols in place. Indoor sports practices can go beyond the 10-person limit – but only to accommodate necessary individuals such as coaches, players and referees.
According to data from Johns Hopkins University, the U.S. currently has an 11.5 million COVID-19 caseload with 250,537 deaths and 4.3 million recoveries.
Read more news about coronavirus restrictions in different states at Pandemic.news.