Coronavirus Update for Central Pennsylvania: What you need to know

HEADLINES 3.23 9a

Elizabethtown College Student Tests Positive For Coronavirus Following Spring Break

(Elizabethtown, PA) -- Elizabethtown College officials say a student who left the country during spring break has tested positive for coronavirus. In a letter to students and faculty, President Cecilia McCormick says the student began to self-quarantine March 12th, but hadn’t experienced any symptoms at that time. Since then, the student is receiving treatment and is recovering, according to McCormick.

York County Food Bank To Provide Drive-Through Food Distributions

(York, PA) -- Officials with the York County Food Bank say there are going to provide drive-through food distributions. They will conduct the distributions Tuesday afternoons and Friday around midday. Anyone participating is asked to bring only one member of their household and they should stay in their vehicle. Also, the food bank asks that vehicle trunks be cleared out to allow volunteers to load food with minimal interaction.

County Coroners Performing Coronavirus Testing On Some Corpses

(Harrisburg, PA) -- Some county coroners across Central P-A are reportedly conducting coronavirus testing on corpses. It’s reported they decide to test based upon feedback from the individual’s family as to whether they could have contracted the virus. So far, no corpses have tested positive.

Dickinson Moves Classes Online For Remainder Of Semester

(Carlisle, PA) -- Dickinson University is moving all of its classes online for the remainder of the semester. University officials said they are also closing their campus to visitors until further notice. In a statement, President Margee Ensign said the decision is one that they must take to ensure the health, safety, and will being of their students, faculty, staff, and community.

The Pennsylvania Department of Revenue announced a deadline extension for taxpayers to file their 2019 state personal income tax returns on Saturday. The new deadline is July 15, 2020.

Taxpayers will now have an additional 90 days to file from the original deadline of April 15. This comes after the IRS also extended the deadline to file for federal returns to July 15.

The Department of Revenue will also waive penalties and interest on 2019 personal tax payments through the new deadline. This extension applies to both final 2019 tax returns and payments and estimated payments for the first and second quarters of 2020.

“This is a necessary step that will give Pennsylvania taxpayers extra time to file their returns and make tax payments during a difficult time for everyone," Revenue Secretary Dan Hassell said. “Particularly for those who plan to meet with a tax professional to prepare their returns, the new deadline will help everyone follow the Governor’s guidance to stay at home as we all work to prevent the spread of the virus.”

While the deadline to file is extended, the Department of Revenue is encouraging taxpayers who are able to file their returns electronically to do so. This will allow the department to continue to process returns as the commonwealth offices are closed. Additionally, if you are expecting a refund, filing electronically will help avoid a delay in the release of your refund.

ALL NON-LIFE-SUSTAINING BUSINESSES IN PENNSYLVANIA TO CLOSE PHYSICAL LOCATIONS AS OF 8 PM TODAY TO SLOW SPREAD OF COVID-19

March 19, 2020

PRESS RELEASEPUBLIC HEALTH

Wolf Administration Orders Closure of Non-Life-Sustaining Businesses at 8 p.m. Today, March 19

Enforcement Actions for Restaurant, Bar Dine-In Closure Began at 8 p.m., March 18

Enforcement Actions for Non-Compliance will Begin at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, March 21

Governor Tom Wolf today ordered all non-life-sustaining businesses in Pennsylvania to close their physical locations as of 8 p.m. today, March 19, to slow the spread of COVID-19. Enforcement actions against businesses that do not close physical locations will begin at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, March 21.

Gov. Wolf’s order ishere.

A video statement from Gov. Wolf ishere.

Sec. of Health’s order ishere.

A list of life-sustaining businesses ishere.

In extenuating circumstances, special exemptions will be granted to businesses that are supplying or servicing health care providers.

“To protect the health and safety of all Pennsylvanians, we need to take more aggressive mitigation actions,” said Gov. Wolf. “This virus is an invisible danger that could be present everywhere. We need to act with the strength we use against any other severe threat. And, we need to act now before the illness spreads more widely.”

The governor hadpreviously encouraged non-life-sustaining businesses to closeto mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Restaurants and bars were already required to stop all dine-in services.Enforcement for establishments with a liquor license began at 8 p.m. March 18, and enforcement for all other food establishments will begin at 8 p.m. tonight. Food establishments can offer carry-out, delivery, and drive-through food and beverage service, including alcohol.

Pursuant to the Emergency Management Services Code, the governor is granted extraordinary powers upon hisdeclaration of a disaster emergency, such as COVID-19. Among these powers, the governor may control the ingress and egress into the disaster area, the movement of persons, and the occupancy of premises within the disaster area, which has been established to be the entire commonwealth for the COVID-19 disaster emergency. The secretary of health separately is authorized under the law to employ measures necessary for the prevention and suppression of disease.

Separately, and taken together, the administration is exercising these powers to temporarily close all non-life-sustaining businesses and dine-in facilities at all restaurants and bars across the commonwealth. Persons must be removed from these premises to cope with the COVID-19 disaster emergency.

Failure to Comply and Enforcement

Failure to comply with these requirements will result in enforcement action that could include citations, fines, or license suspensions.

The governor has directed the following state agencies and local officials to enforce the closure orders to the full extent of the law:

  • Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board
  • Department of Health
  • Department of Agriculture
  • Pennsylvania State Police
  • Local officials, using their resources to enforce closure orders within their jurisdictions

Private businesses, local organizations and other noncompliant entities that fail or refuse to comply with the governor’s orders that protect the lives and health of Pennsylvanians will forfeit their ability to receive any applicable disaster relief and/or may be subject to other appropriate administrative action. Such action may include termination of state loan or grant funding, including Redevelopment Assistance Capital Project (RACP) grant funding and/or suspension or revocation of licensure for violation of the law.

Finally, in addition to any other criminal charges that might be applicable, the Department of Health is authorized to prosecute noncompliant entities for the failure to comply with health laws, including quarantine, isolation or other disease control measures. Violators are subject to fines or imprisonment.

Business Loans and Support

The Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) offers working capital loans that could be of assistance to businesses impacted by COVID-19. Resources and information will be posted tohttp://dced.pa.gov/resourcesas they become available. The U.S. Small Business Administration, in addition to local funding partners, may also be a source of assistance for affected businesses.

The Wolf Administration today announced the availability oflow-interest loansfor small businesses and eligible non-profits in all 67 counties in Pennsylvania through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

Businesses seeking guidance from DCED can also contact its customer service resource account atra-dcedcs@pa.govor by calling 1-877-PA-HEALTH and selecting option 1.

For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, Pennsylvanians should visit:https://www.pa.gov/guides/responding-to-covid-19/.

Harrisburg, PA — The Pennsylvania Department of Health announced 52 new positive coronavirus cases on Thursday, bringing the statewide total to 185 with one death first reported on Wednesday.  

State health officials say all patients that have tested positive for the virus are either in isolation at home or being treated at the hospital.

New cases have been reported in the Central Pennsylvania area, including 2 in Lancaster County, 1 in Adams County and 1 in Lebanon County.

The Department of Health also provided a county-by-county breakdown of the positive cases in Pennsylvania:

“Our notable increase in cases over the last few days and our first death in Pennsylvania indicate we need everyone to take COVID-19 seriously,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “Pennsylvanians have a very important job right now: stay calm, stay home and stay safe. We have seen case counts continue to increase and the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to stay home.”

So far, 1,608 patients have tested negative for coronavirus in Pennsylvania.

The Department of Health says data is not available on the number of tests pending from commercial and private labs.

Bill Mead

NORTHAMPTON COUNTY, Pa. - Pennsylvania has reported its first death related to the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. 

An adult from Northampton County died, the Wolf Administration said Wednesday.

The person was being treated at a hospital.

Statewide, there are 133 cases of COVID-19 reported from commercial, hospital and state labs. There are 1,187 patients who have tested negative. 

LANCASTER COUNTY — Lancaster General Hospital announced that they are currently treating a patient that has tested positive for coronavirus, or COVID-19.

In addition to the 134 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in PA, officials say 1,187 people have tested negative.

So far, there have been no reported deaths due to coronavirus in the state.

When Can Grocery Shop?

Aldi:The discount grocer’s stores are open 9 a.m.- 7 p.m. daily.

Giant:Giant is operating on a 6 a.m.-midnight schedule.

Karns Foods:Hours are 7 a.m.-10 p.m.

Walmart:The stores are open 6 a.m.-11 p.m.

Wegmans:Stores are operating from 6 a.m.-11 p.m.

Weis Markets:Store hours are now 7 a.m.-9 p.m.

(Harrisburg, PA) On Monday Governor Tom Wolf announced that non-essential businesses in Pennsylvania would be asked to remain closed for the next two weeks to slow the spread of the Coronavirus.

Non-essential businesses include public-facing industries such as entertainment, hospitality, and recreation facilities, including but not limited to community and recreation centers; gyms, including yoga, barre and spin facilities; hair salons and barber shops, nail salons and spas; casinos; concert venues; theaters; sporting event venues and golf courses; retail facilities, including shopping malls except for pharmacy or other health care facilities within retail operations.

Wolf’s office says the businesses that would be considered “essential," include food processing, agriculture, industrial manufacturing, feed mills, construction, trash collection, auto and home repair, post office and shipping outlets, insurance, banks, laundromats, veterinary clinics and pet stores, and hotels and commercial lodging.

On Monday afternoon, Governor Tom Wolf ordered a statewide shutdown effective at midnight for all non-essential businesses.

Essential businesses, like supermarkets, medical facilities, gas stations and trash collection, will remain open during the shutdown.

Restaurants and bars are to be closed as well, but can still have take-out options, according to the governor.

Gov. Wolf says he anticipates these mitigation efforts to continue for two weeks, but says officials will be constantly reevaluating and will lift these efforts as soon as possible.

According to the Department of Health, there are new Covid-19 cases are in the following counties:

2 in Allegheny County

1 in Bucks County

2 in Philadelphia County

6 in Montgomery County

1 in Monroe County.

All those who tested positive are either in isolation at home or being treated at a medical facility.

As of this morning, health officials say 670 patients in Pennsylvania have tested negative for the coronavirus either at the state public health lab, a commercial lab, or hospital laboratories.

“While we anticipate that there will be more Pennsylvanians with COVID-19 in the coming days and weeks, it is important for residents to know the commonwealth is prepared and to be prepared themselves,” Dr. Rachel Levine with the Department of Health said. We are working with the health care community across Pennsylvania to keep them informed, consult on patient testing and ensuring they have the resources they need to care for patients.”

Governor Wolfe has ordered a state wide shut down

On Monday afternoon, Governor Tom Wolf ordered a statewide shutdown effective at midnight for all non-essential businesses.

Essential businesses, like supermarkets, medical facilities, gas stations and trash collection, will remain open during the shutdown.

Restaurants and bars are to be closed as well, but can still have take-out options, according to the governor.

Gov. Wolf says he anticipates these mitigation efforts to continue for two weeks, but says officials will be constantly reevaluating and will lift these efforts as soon as possible.

According to the Department of Health, there are new Covid-19 cases are in the following counties:

2 in Allegheny County

1 in Bucks County

2 in Philadelphia County

6 in Montgomery County

1 in Monroe County.

All those who tested positive are either in isolation at home or being treated at a medical facility.

As of this morning, health officials say 670 patients in Pennsylvania have tested negative for the coronavirus either at the state public health lab, a commercial lab, or hospital laboratories.

“While we anticipate that there will be more Pennsylvanians with COVID-19 in the coming days and weeks, it is important for residents to know the commonwealth is prepared and to be prepared themselves,” Dr. Rachel Levine with the Department of Health said. We are working with the health care community across Pennsylvania to keep them informed, consult on patient testing and ensuring they have the resources they need to care for patients.”

The Pennsylvania Department of Health today confirmed 13 additional positive cases of COVID-19 — two in Allegheny County; one in Bucks County; six in Montgomery County; two in Monroe County; and two in Philadelphia County. All are either in isolation at home or being treated at the hospital. This brings the statewide total to 76 cases. Confirmed cases also include those from commercial and hospital laboratories.

As of this morning, there are 670 patients who have tested negative either at the state public health lab, a commercial lab or a hospital laboratory.

“While we anticipate that there will be more Pennsylvanians with COVID-19 in the coming days and weeks, it is important for residents to know the commonwealth is prepared and to be prepared themselves,” Dr. Levine said. “Right now, you have a higher chance of testing positive for COVID-19 if you have traveled to a country or state with known community outbreaks or have come in contact with someone who has the virus. We are working with the health care community across Pennsylvania to keep them informed, consult on patient testing and ensuring they have the resources they need to care for patients.”

Statewide – The Wolf Administration:

Announced that bars and restaurants in Montgomery, Delaware, Bucks, Chester and Allegheny counties must close dine-in service for at least 14 days beginning March 16.

Announced mitigation efforts in Montgomery, Delaware, Bucks and Chester counties. Allegheny County announced similar mitigation efforts.

Closed all Pennsylvania k-12 schools with additional guidance forthcoming.

Issued guidance to non-essential businesses.

In accordance with the CDC, for the next 8 weeks, called on organizers (whether groups or individuals) to cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the United States.

State Workers In Dauphin County, Capital Complex Ordered To Work From Home, If Possible

(Harrisburg, PA) -- The Commonwealth of P-A is asking state employees in Dauphin County and the Capital Complex to work from home, if possible, starting today.In an email late last night, the Deputy Secretary of Human Resources and Management said anyone who is equipped to telework is to do so immediately.Those who need equipment from their office are to report this morning, pick up what they need, and go home.If an individual’s supervisors say they are unable to telework during the 14-day period, those workers will still be paid under the Paid Office Closing management directive.

(Harrisburg, PA) - The Pennsylvania Department of Health today confirmed 16 additional positive cases of COVID-19— one in Allegheny County; one in Bucks County; two in Cumberland County; one in Delaware County; one in Lehigh County; one in Luzerne County; three in Monroe County; four in Montgomery County; and two in Philadelphia County. All are either in isolation at home or being treated at the hospital. This brings the statewide total to 63 cases.

There have been 446 patients to date who have been tested or are in the process of being tested. There are 205 who have tested negative; 63 confirmed cases; and 183 patient samples are either at the lab for testing or on their way to the lab.

“While we anticipate that there will be more Pennsylvanians with COVID-19 in the coming days and weeks, it is important for residents to know the commonwealth is prepared and to be prepared themselves,” Dr. Levine said. “Right now, you have a higher chance of testing positive for COVID-19 if you have traveled to a country or state with known community outbreaks or have come in contact with someone who has the virus. We are working with the health care community across Pennsylvania to keep them informed, consult on patient testing and ensuring they have the resources they need to care for patients.”

(from CBS 21) Some church services have been canceled or altered. Please click here for the comoplete list.

Be Prepared!
Sick? Click Here!

UPMC Ready to Test for Coronavirus; First Collection Site Opens

PITTSBURGH, March 14, 2020UPMC has developed a test for the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19— and will use this test to diagnose select, symptomatic cases. The health system plans to rapidly increase capacity at its central laboratory and, if there is a need, could test hundreds of patients per week in the near future, filling a critical gap before other commercial tests come online.

To read this release online or share it, visit https://www.upmc.com/media/news/031420-covid19-testing.

(York, PA) -- Officials with WellSpan Health say a coronavirus testing tent has been installed outside its York location. Hospital representatives say the tent is not walk-up, however. Patients must first call and be interviewed by a doctor before being tested in person. Once a test is done, it takes between one and four days to get its results back.

(Harrisburg,PA) The Dauphin County Library System has made the decision to close all eight of its libraries for at least two weeks, through March 28.

Due dates will be adjusted for all materials that are currently checked out by library members.

The Dauphin County Library System encourages its members to practice social distancing as it is one of the most effective ways to slow the spread of germs.

CDC INFO

From the CDC here is what they have learned about those who may be at a higher risk:

Early information out of China, where COVID-19 first started, shows that some people are at higher risk of getting very sick from this illness. This includes:

  • Older adults
  • People who have serious chronic medical conditions like:
    • Heart disease
    • Diabetes
    • Lung disease

If a COVID-19 outbreak happens in your community, it could last for a long time. (An outbreak is when a large number of people suddenly get sick.) Depending on how severe the outbreak is, public health officials may recommend community actions to reduce people’s risk of being exposed to COVID-19. These actions can slow the spread and reduce the impact of disease.

If you are at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19 because of your age or because you have a serious long-term health problem, it is extra important for you to take actions to reduce your risk of getting sick with the disease.

For more information click here. This information is directly from the CDC.

Watch for symptoms and emergency warning signs

  • Pay attention for potential COVID-19 symptoms including, fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If you feel like you are developing symptoms, call your doctor.
  • If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately. In adults, emergency warning signs*:
    • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
    • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
    • New confusion or inability to arouse
    • Bluish lips or face

*This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation announced that it will be suspending some operations in regions across the state, including Lancaster County, due to the outbreak of COVID-19.

In response to Governor Wolf's mitigation guidance, all Driver License Centers and Photo License Centers in Montgomery County will be closed for two weeks beginning Friday, March 13.

They say the following locations will be closed and reopen no sooner than Friday, March 27, 2020:

King of Prussia Driver License and REAL ID Center, 143 S Gulph Rd, King of Prussia:

Norristown Driver License and REAL ID Center, 1700 Markley St, Norristown;

Huntingdon Valley Driver License and REAL ID Center, 2022 County Line Rd, Huntingdon Valley;

Harleysville Photo License Center, 345 Main St, Harleysville;

Ardmore Photo License Center, 30 Greenfield Ave, Ardmore; and

Pottstown Photo License Center, 978 E High St, Pottstown.

PennDOT says that customers will still have the ability to complete various transactions and access resources through their website.

Driver and vehicle online services are available online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week through PennDOT and include:

  • driver's license, photo ID and vehicle registration renewals;
  • driver-history services;
  • changes of address;
  • driver license and vehicle registration restoration letters;
  • ability to pay driver license or vehicle insurance restoration fee;
  • driver license and photo ID duplicates;
  • and driver exam scheduling.

PennDOT also says that out of an abundance of caution and to help control the number of customers in its facilities, they will suspend the issuance of REAL ID drivers licenses and photo ID cards at all PennDOT Driver License Centers in the following counties until no sooner than March 28:

  • Montgomery County
  • Philadelphia County
  • Chester County
  • Delaware County
  • Berks County
  • Bucks County
  • Lancaster County
  • Lehigh County

With the exception of Montgomery County, customers will be able to obtain all other services at these locations.

Pennsylvania Department of Corrections Secretary John Wetzel says inmate visits at all state correctional institutions are cancelled for 14 days, effective today.

DOC officials say staff, vendors and contracted workers at all state correctional institutions will undergo enhanced screenings.

Wetzel says the DOC is working to increase phone time and commissary order limits, due to the impact that canceling visits can have on inmates.

Information for State Capitol Complex

         Please see the following release from the Department of General Services. Effective tomorrow, access to the Capitol Complex will be limited to employees and people with badge keycards. This means that you will most likely be canceling most of your appointments next week and until the restriction is lifted. Please plan accordingly.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 12, 2020

Pennsylvania Announces Proactive Measures for Capitol Complex, Governor’s Residence in Response to COVID-19

Harrisburg, PA – In response to COVID-19, the Department of General Services announced today that effective Friday, March 13, 2020, all public events in the Capitol Complex and Governor’s Residence will be canceled until further notice. All operations of the Governor’s Office and General Assembly will continue, but access to the Capitol Complex will be limited to employees and people with badge keycard credentials.

“Our top priority is the health and safety of the public,” DGS Secretary Curt Topper said. “This protective measure to limit social distances is being made in consultation with the Department of Health and is in keeping with the CDC’s guidelines. The Department of General Services appreciates the partnership with the General Assembly as we take this necessary step regarding the spread of the COVID-19 virus.”

The cancelation of events applies to all interior and exterior venues in the Capitol Complex and will affect public gatherings such as rallies, school or group tours, choir performances and receptions.

The Capitol Complex includes the Main Capitol Rotunda, East Wing Rotunda, Keystone Building Atrium, Forum Auditorium and The State Museum of Pennsylvania.

MEDIA CONTACT:Troy Thompson, DGS, 717-787-3197

(Harrisburg, PA) -- Organizers with Harrisburg and York’s Saint Patrick’s Day parades say they have cancelled their events for this year.

The York parade, scheduled for this Saturday, and the Harrisburg parade, set for next weekend, are among several dozen events cancelled, scheduled, or postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic..

(Hershey, PA) -- In a statement, the American Hockey League, which includes the Hershey Bears, is announcing is is suspending play for the season.

AMERICAN HOCKEY LEAGUE

"With the health and safety of our players, officials, staff and fans of primary importance, the American Hockey League has announced the suspension of play until further notice, effective immediately, due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.

The AHL will continue to monitor developments and will provide updates on the 2019-20 season at the appropriate time."

HERSHEY BEARS VP OF HOCKEY OPERATIONS - BRYAN HELMER

"We support the American Hockey League's decision to suspend play at this time. The health and safety of our players, staff, fans, and community remains our top priority. We are monitoring the COVID-19 situation with regular updates and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Pennsylvania Department of Health, as well as additional government agencies and health care providers. We will work closely with those agencies and the AHL as this situation evolves.” 

Given the decision by the AHL today, please hold onto your tickets as fans who have tickets already purchased for a postponed game will be honored when the game is rescheduled. Ticket and future schedule information will be announced when available on our website HersheyBears.com and our social media channels. Thank you for your support."

(State College, PA) -- Penn State University is suspending the return of students on campus amid the coronavirus spread.University officials announced yesterday that starting Monday online learning will be in place.

The university says it will resume in-person classes April 6th.

The university will remain open for faculty and staff, though some may be allowed to telework when possible.

(State College, PA) -- P-S-U officials are asking all undergraduate and graduate students to stay away from campus housing, apartments, and fraternities during the coronavirus spread.

International students already on campus or those unable to return home will be worked with on a case-by-case basis, according to the university.

Penn State says it will have some facilities open during the suspension, but aren’t saying which ones.

(Harrisburg, PA) -- Governor Tom Wolf is reassuring Pennsylvanians that coronavirus testing and treatment will be covered under Pennsylvania’s Medicaid and CHIP.

Wolf says copayments will not be required for lab tests.

For any services that do require a copay, Medicaid providers cannot deny someone if they are unable to pay.

(Kutztown, PA) -- More college campuses in the region are taking action as fears about the Coronavirus spread.

Kutztown University is extending their spring break until March 21st.

Millersville University in Lancaster County is moving to online courses on that day for an indefinite amount of time.

Penn State University school officials are shutting down campuses statewide and moving to online courses from March 16th through at least April 3rd.

The changes will impact Penn State Berks in Spring Township.

(Pittsburgh, PA) -- The planned meeting of the G-Seven countries in Pittsburgh is being canceled due to concerns over the spread of the coronavirus.

Organizers instead will hold the event virtually using video teleconferencing instead of meeting in person March 24th and 25th at the Omni William Penn Hotel.

Pittsburgh had been preparing for the event since November.

The Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg says parishioners are not obligated to attend mass until further notice. In a statement Thursday, Bishop Ronald Gainer said church services will still be held, though parishioners should be careful in interacting with others. The diocese has suspended the sign of peace, the use of holy water, and the public use of the chalice as well.

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