Harrisburg, PA – As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine today implored Pennsylvanians to take the next three weeks and stand united against the virus by adhering to existing mitigation orders and stricter efforts announced today.
“Today I am announcing additional, temporary COVID-19 protective mitigation measures in the commonwealth,” said Gov. Wolf. “With these measures in place, we hope to accomplish three goals: First, stop the devastating spread of COVID-19 in the commonwealth. Second, keep our hospitals and health care workers from becoming overwhelmed. And third, help Pennsylvanians get through the holiday season – and closer to a widely available vaccine – as safely as possible. This is a bridge to a better future in Pennsylvania.”
The new, limited-time mitigation orders take effect at 12:01 a.m. on December 12, and remain in effect until 8 a.m. on January 4, 2021.
“Each of the last two days we have reported the highest number of deaths since the beginning of the pandemic,” Dr. Rachel Levine said. “In the past week, we have reported close to 1,100 new deaths from COVID-19 across Pennsylvania. The virus continues to strain our health care systems and the dramatic rise in cases among all age groups, including among school-age children, is alarming. Since the start of the pandemic, there have been more than 37,500 cases among children age 5 to 18, yet 9,500 of those cases occurred in the past two weeks.”
The Order provisions outlined here are accompanied by supportive data used in part to make these decisions. The data provides a sampling of research that supports why limiting gatherings, reducing occupancy, and temporarily suspending some activities, among other efforts, are considered vital to stopping the spread of COVID-19.
Two recent studies, one by Yale University and one by Stanford University, substantiate more than one of these mitigation efforts. Links to the full studies and additional data and research can be found on the Department of Health’s data page, here.
Limited-Time Mitigation efforts announced today include:
The CDC states that medium-sized outdoor gatherings carry a higher risk of COVID-19 spread, even with social distancing. CDC notes that the more people an individual interacts with at a gathering and the longer that interaction lasts, the higher the potential risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 and COVID-19 spreading, and that the higher the level of community transmission in the area that the gathering is being held, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spreading during a gathering.
“We know that COVID-19 thrives in places where people gather together,” Gov. Wolf said. “Therefore, these mitigation measures target high-risk environments and activities and aim to reduce the spread of this devastating virus.”
According to Yale University research, mitigation measures such as mandatory mask requirements, and gym and restaurant closures are policies that most consistently predict lower four- to six-week-ahead fatality growth.
“The work we do now to slow the spread of COVID-19 is not only crucial to keeping our fellow Pennsylvanians safe and healthy,” Gov. Wolf said. “It will help all of us get back to normal, and back to all of the things we’ve missed, faster. And it means more Pennsylvanians will be alive to celebrate that brighter future. This year, we show our love for our families and friends by celebrating safely and protecting one another.”