Severity: Critical Alert

Transportation: Officials in Pennsylvania, US, extend order requiring residents to stay home until at least May 8. Other restrictions in place.

The locations affected by this alert are:

  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
  • Allentown, Pennsylvania
  • Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
  • State College, Pennsylvania
  • Williamsport, Pennsylvania
  • Erie, Pennsylvania
  • Du Bois, Pennsylvania
  • Altoona, Pennsylvania
  • Johnstown, Pennsylvania
  • Hazelton, Pennsylvania
  • Bradford, Pennsylvania
  • Latrobe, Pennsylvania
  • Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

This alert began 22 Apr 2020 19:44 GMT and is scheduled to expire 08 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Event: COVID-related restrictions
  • Location(s): Pennsylvania (map)
  • Time Frame: Through at least May 8
  • Impact: Significant transport and business disruptions, heightened security

Summary
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf extended orders requiring residents to stay at home, except to perform essential tasks, through May 8, as part of the commonwealth's efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The orders allow residents to leave their homes only to obtain basic goods, attend a medical issue, care for a person in need, or travel to or from a place of employment defined as an essential business or service. Residents may also perform outdoor activities, provided they comply with social distancing requirements. The statewide closure of schools and nonessential businesses remains in place until further notice. Among the essential businesses and services that can remain open are grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, fuel stations, and those related to critical manufacturing, security, transport, and energy.

Essential workers must wear a mask whenever they are in their worksite, and customers must wear a mask whenever they enter a business. Authorities have also recommended all residents to wear a mask whenever they leave their homes.

Significant transport and business disruptions are likely. Authorities will almost certainly deploy additional security personnel to assist in enforcing the measure. Officials could amend the order on short notice, depending on the evolution of disease activity in the coming days and weeks.

Background and Analysis
The measures taken by Pennsylvania authorities are similar to actions adopted by other governments in the US and globally in recent weeks in response to the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Strictly heed the instructions of authorities. Avoid all nonessential operations in areas impacted by the measures. Confirm appointments. Remain courteous and cooperative if approached and questioned by law enforcement officers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

Resources
World Health Organization COVID-19 Knowledge Base: www.who.int

Pennsylvania Department of Health: www.health.pa.gov

Pennsylvania COVID-19 Restrictions: https://www.pa.gov/guides/responding-to-covid-19/

Governor of Pennsylvania Stay-at-home Order Extension: https://www.governor.pa.gov/

Governor of Pennsylvania Stay-at-home Guidelines: https://www.governor.pa.gov