Wolf Considers Reopening Liquor Stores! (and also imposing shelter in place), Local Man 3rd PA Death
HARRISBURG (MAR 22 2020)-- Governor Tom Wolf held an online press conference this evening in which he said, among other things, that he was considering reopening the state owned liquor stores. More significantly, he confirmed our report yesterday that his administration was considering a more severe "stay-at-home" or "shelter in place" directive to help stem the spread of the Coronavirus, or COVID-19, infection in Pennsylvania. "We're going the wrong way," the Governor said tonight, speaking about the exponential spread of COVID-19 after twelve consecutive days of 30% or more daily increases in the numbers of acknowledged cases in the state. "If we keep going the way we're going, we are going to end up like Italy," Wolf warned. Wolf said he and the Department of Health were watching for signs that the rapid growth was beginning to slow. Calling this pandemic "the most significant public health crisis in our lifetime," a somber Wolf told Pennsylvania, "we all need to work together -- to keep our distance from one another. We need time for our hospitals to prepare for the surge." "I don't want to minimize the threat to you, and I want to be honest with you about what we face." Wolf said. Pennsylvania hospitals, he said, would be quickly overwhelmed and unable to provide life-saving services if the Commonwealth does not all cooperate in reducing social distance and the spread of the virus. Nurses at Lehigh Valley-Pocono, where Pennsylvania's third victim of the pandemic, a 56-year-old male from East Stroudsburg, died today, have been drafted to make their own protective masks, as supplies there have already dwindled. At least one doctor and two nurses have tested positive for the virus at Lehigh Pocono. An undetermined number of additional medical staff at Lehigh-Pocono have been quarantined at home due to eh COVID-19 scare. Wolf did not mention the third Pennsylvania death in his press conference, which largely focused on enforcement efforts to compel non-essential businesses to shutter operations. Law enforcement agencies throughout the state have received guidance on enforcement, which starts at 8 am tomorrow morning, from the state police. Wolf strongly indicated the likelihood that the April 28 primary would need to be postponed because of the outbreak. He confirmed he was in discussions with the legislature to pass the appropriate legislation, requested by counties across the state who reported difficulty training poll workers reluctant to gather in groups under the current situation. With respect to the schools, the Governor said that a decision on extending the school closures would be made in the next few days. The Pocono Mountain School District notified parents today of a webpage they could use to guide home instruction for their children during the closures. Principals of he individual schools will begin to survey parents to determine who would need tablets or laptops so that their children could participate in online education should the school closures continue beyond the initial two-week period, which at this point seems likely. Due to weather forecast, tomorrow's "Grab 'n Go" lunches provided by PMSD will operate from Noon to 2pm.