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Coronavirus in Pa.: What stay-at-home orders mean for county residents

Candy Woodall
York Daily Record
Published 5:25 PM EDT Mar 27, 2020

Gov. Tom Wolf on Friday issued a stay-at-home order for York County and eight other counties to try and stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus. 

As of 8 p.m. Friday, residents in nine more counties are ordered to stay at home unless it’s essential to go out: Berks, Butler, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Luzerne, Pike, Wayne, Westmoreland and York.

The best way to stop the spread of disease and protect hospitals from being overwhelmed is to make all Pennsylvanians stay home, he said. 

Gov. Tom Wolf confirms the first presumptive positive cases of 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Pennsylvania during a news conference March 6, 2020.
Commonwealth Media Services

His order remains in effect until April 6. 

The latest round brings the state total to 19 of 67 counties with stay-at-home orders. 

The announcement came on the same day that Pennsylvania reached 2,218 positive cases of COVID-19 and 22 deaths. 

A day earlier, the state reported 170 hospitalizations. 

Tracking coronavirus: An interactive map of active cases

What it means

Staying at home is the main rule of a shelter-in-place order, but it doesn’t mean you can’t go outside.

The order allows people to venture out for food, gas, medical appointments, shared custody drop-offs and pick-ups, and exercise. And Pennsylvanians who are employed by essential businesses can still go to work. 

When going outdoors is needed, people are told to use social distancing and stay at least 6 feet apart from each other. 

Philadelphia at 8 a.m. Monday went into its own shelter-in-place order after Mayor Jim Kenney issued the plan Sunday. And Wolf followed with an order for Philadelphia County and surrounding counties. He has added counties to the list throughout the week, but has not initiated a statewide order. 

Several states have statewide stay-at-home orders: California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Connecticut, Louisiana, Delaware, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin. 

As of this past week, more than 160 million Americans are living under stay-at-home orders. 

The purpose of his order is to keep people away from each other and enforce the social distancing everyone was asked to do by the nation’s top medical experts. Social distancing limits the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus. 

While going outside is OK, being near other people puts everyone at risk of being infected. COVID-19 tests show people can have the coronavirus and not have symptoms, unknowingly spreading it to people who may be sickened and hospitalized.  

What is allowed under the stay-at-home orders in Pa.? 

Who is exempt from the order? 

How will it be enforced? 

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.

To report a noncompliant business, contact your local law enforcement agency’s non-emergency number or the nearest Pennsylvania State Police station.

Do not call 911 or the Department of Community and Economic Development to file reports.

Law enforcement officers should refer to Business Closure Order Enforcement Guidance available online.

Candy Woodall is a reporter for the USA Today Network. She can be reached at 717-480-1783 or on Twitter at @candynotcandace.

This content was originally published here.