Pennsylvania is stepping up its mandate and will require travelers outside the country to take a negative coronavirus test before arriving, health officials said Tuesday, taking further steps to tackle the sharp rise in infections and hospitalizations.
Indoor masks are now required wherever people from different households are gathered – even if they are physically distant, Secretary of State Dr. Rachel Levine said on Tuesday. The order applies to any indoor facility, including private homes, but Levine acknowledged that employees rely on voluntary compliance rather than enforcement.
Health officials said the relentless spread of the virus this fall was due in part to small indoor gatherings, and it remains to be seen how many COVID Pennsylvania residents will heed Levin̵
Levine said the way tariffs in Pennsylvania in the coming weeks and months will largely depend on society’s willingness to wear masks and stay away from each other.
“Eventually, people will have the consequences of their actions, as well as their families and their communities, and if they don’t wear masks, if they don’t have a social distance, then those communities will see an even greater spread of COVID-19,” he said. she.
A separate order stipulates that people traveling to Pennsylvania from another state, as well as Pennsylvania residents returning home from outside the state, must take a negative test. for the virus within 72 hours before arrival. The order does not apply to people traveling back and forth for work or treatment. People who refuse to be tested will be quarantined for 14 days, Levin said.
Again, the state does not plan to impose this measure, but wants voluntary compliance.
Like the rest of the country, Pennsylvania has seen an explosion of coronavirus infections in recent weeks. The state reports more than 5,000 new infections a day, more than 115% in just two weeks.
In addition, hospitalizations have increased sixfold since the beginning of autumn. More than 2,700 people are now in hospital with COVID-19, reaching a state record of about 3,000 in early May. In Pennsylvania, they will be left without beds next month at the current rate of admission, according to the model of the Institute of Health Metrics and Assessment at the University of Washington.
The rate of positivity in testing has increased, and deaths are also increasing.
Democratic Gov. Tom Wolfe imposed home order and closed businesses considered “unviable” at the start of the pandemic, but Wolfe and Levin have consistently said they have no plans to apply another shutdown on a broad basis.
On Tuesday, Levin did not rule out additional mitigation measures.
“Whether we have to do anything else really depends on you. “Depending on the public, each of us takes responsibility for the common good of everyone in Pennsylvania,” Levine said. “And if we all do our part and stay united, then we may not need additional mitigation measures.”
Departments of Health and Education also advised colleges and universities on Tuesday to have a testing plan for students returning to college after the holidays. And Levine asked hospitals to move up a choice of surgeries and said they should be prepared to postpone them if they are flooded with patients with COVID.
The country’s governors and mayors have tightened restrictions in response to the deteriorating pandemic. On Monday, Philadelphia said it would ban indoor gatherings and indoor dining and prison casinos, gyms, museums and libraries. Last week, Montgomery County, one of the state’s most populous counties, ordered K-12 schools to suspend personal education. until December 6.
Pennsylvania already has a state-wide mask mandate, restrictions on indoor and outdoor gatherings, and restrictions on employment in bars and restaurants.
This story has been corrected to show that travelers to Pennsylvania must take a negative test 72 hours before arrival, not 72 days.