A new Pennsylvania COVID-19 mandate requires the wearing of masks in homes when members of different households gather, according to the Associated Press.
Dr. Rachel Levine, the Pennsylvania state health secretary, said the order applies even if people are physically distant. However, Levine acknowledged that officials are relying on voluntary compliance rather than on enforcement.
The order applies to every indoor facility, in addition to private homes, the AP said.
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A separate order mandates that people who are traveling to Pennsylvania from another state, as well as Pennsylvania residents who are returning home from out of state, must test negative for the virus within 72 hours prior to arrival. The order does not apply to people traveling back and forth for work or medical treatment. People who refuse to be tested will be required to quarantine for 14 days, Levine said.
Again, the state has no plans to enforce that measure, but is asking for voluntary compliance.
The AP said health officials blamed the spread of the virus in part on small indoor gatherings. Levine noted that how Pennsylvania does in the coming weeks and months will depend largely on the public’s willingness to wear masks and practice social distancing.
“In the end, people will have the consequences of their actions as well as their families and their communities, and if they do not wear masks, if they do not social distance, then those communities are going to see even more spread of COVID-19,” Levine said.
The state is reporting more than 5,000 new infections per day. This is up more than 115% in just two weeks. More than 2,700 people are now hospitalized in Pennsylvania with COVID-19 — not far from the state record of about 3,000 in early May.
The AP said that according to models from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, Pennsylvania will run out of Intensive Care Unit beds next month at the current admission rate.
Additionally, the rate of positive COVID-19 test results, as well as deaths, have been rising.
While Democratic Governor Tom Wolf imposed a stay-at-home order and closed “non-life-sustaining” businesses early in the pandemic, the AP reported that Wolf and Levine have consistently said they do not intend to implement another broad-based shutdown.
But on Tuesday, Levine did not rule out more mitigation measures, the outlet said.
“Whether we have to do anything else really depends upon you. It depends upon the public, each one of us taking our responsibility for the common good of everyone in Pennsylvania,” Levine said. She continued, “and if we all do our part, and we stand united, then we might not need any further mitigation measures.”