Gov. Wolf extends stay-at-home order through April 30, closes schools ‘indefinitely’

Rachel Kurland
March 30, 2020 - 2:29 pm

UPDATED: 8:03 p.m.

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has extended his stay-at-home order to last through at least April 30, in line with President Donald Trump’s order.

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More counties are now ordered to stay at home, effective Monday at 8 p.m.: Carbon, Cumberland, Dauphin and Schuylkill counties. To date, 26 counties are now under the order.

All Pennsylvania schools will remain closed, too, until further notice. Non-life-sustaining business closures remain in effect.

“Business and school closures will no longer have a set day to resume normal operations,” he said. “We’re going to keep our schools and businesses closed as long as we need to keep them closed to keep Pennsylvania safe.”

As of Monday, there are 4,087 confirmed coronavirus cases statewide, across 59 counties. At least 48 people have died.

Although the governor said he has not heard from hospitals of an overwhelming challenge yet, Wolf said they’re working to ensure hospitals have all the supplies and resources they need.

He said they’re considering state university facilities are temporary health care facilities.

As for students, Wolf said they’re working on a plan that he hopes to have in motion in the next couple of days, so by next week, there will be an alternative to “brick-and-mortar schools.”

Wolf requested a major disaster declaration from the White House on Sunday, in order to provide extra support for state, county and municipal governments, as well as people struggling during the COVID-19 crisis.

“Up until now, I’ve been saying ‘another two weeks, another two weeks.’ Now, I’m going to leave the date indefinite,” Wolf continued. “I know this isn’t easy to hear. We humans are built to want to work, to learn to socialize. And it’s hard being confined, as I know, to one place.”

More deaths in Philly suburbs

Montgomery County announced its sixth death on Monday: an 82-year-old woman from Springfield Township.

With so many confirmed cases, county officials say data shows Montco will peak in about two weeks, though the height of the peak is unknown.

Chester County announced its first death on Monday: An 89-year-old Willistown Township man. He had been hospitalized and died on Sunday. 

Health department officials are offering their condolences to his loved ones. Cases in Chester County also rose to 146.

The death toll stands at five in Delaware County. It was hit with 45 new cases on Monday, bringing the county total to 300.

Authorities from both counties remind residents to stay at home except for essential reasons, like doctor visits or food shopping.

During the ongoing outbreak, the Chester County Health Department has been sharing its services with Delaware County, since it does not have its own health department.

Statewide guidelines

According to a press release from the governor, the stay-at-home order means individuals may only leave their homes for “essential travel,” outlined below:

  • Tasks essential to maintain health and safety, or the health and safety of their family or household members (including pets), such as obtaining medicine or medical supplies, visiting a health care professional, or obtaining supplies they need to work from home
  • Getting necessary services or supplies for themselves, for their family or household members, or as part of volunteer efforts, or to deliver those services or supplies to others to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences
  • Engaging in outdoor activity, such as walking, hiking or running if they maintain social distancing
  • To perform work providing essential products and services at a life-sustaining business
  • To care for a family member or pet in another household
  • Any travel related to the provision of or access to the above-mentioned individual activities or life-sustaining business activities
  • Travel to care for elderly, minors, dependents, persons with disabilities, or other vulnerable persons
  • Travel to or from educational institutions for purposes of receiving materials for distance learning, for receiving meals, and any other related services
  • Travel to return to a place of residence from an outside jurisdiction
  • Travel required by law enforcement or court order
  • Travel required for non-residents to return to their place of residence outside the commonwealth
  • Anyone performing life-sustaining travel does not need paperwork to prove the reason for travel.

The following activities are allowed to continue on:

  • Life-sustaining business activities
  • Health care or medical services providers
  • Access to life-sustaining services for low-income residents, including food banks
  • Access to child care services for employees of life-sustaining businesses that remain open as follows: child care facilities operating under the Department of Human Services, Office of Child Development and Early Learning waiver process; group and family child care operating in a residence; and part-day school age programs operating under an exemption from the March 19, 2020 business closure Orders
  • News media
  • Law enforcement, emergency medical services personnel, firefighters
  • The federal government
  • Religious institutions

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KYW Newsradio's Andrew Kramer and Pat Toddy contributed to this report.