Wolf to PA: 'Your Mask - Don't Leave Home Without It!'
HARRISBURG (APE 3 2020) -- Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf today told Pennsylvanians that they "have a long way to go to get through this crisis and if we want to come through it with the most Pennsylvanians alive", they need to "step up and do their part", including by staying home unless they "really, truly, need to leave", and if they do leave, to wear a fabric or cloth mask.
Four weeks after the first case in the state, Pennsylvania today announced 1,400 new cases of COVID-19 -- the second day in a row adding over 1,000 cases. "We're beginning to see our first glimpses of the full force of this pandemic," the governor said today. "Pennsylvania is beginning to climb to the peak cases." Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Rachel Levine said at the same news conference that her department has been working "tirelessly" to ensure the state's hospitals have the supplies, beds, masks, and ventilators they need to take care of the patients they expect to see over the coming weeks as the state moves towards the anticipated peak cases of the virus.
"The key," Dr. Levine said, "is to prevent the surge from becoming high enough that it could overwhelm any health care system." That, the secretary said, requires Pennsylvanians to stay home, follow physical distancing guidelines when they must go out, and take the other suggested precautions.
"The only way we can cut the growth of this virus is to act like we all have it," Wolf said. "Masks help prevent people from sharing illnesses. They don't do a great job at preventing people from getting sick." Therefore, he said, "stay home unless you absolutely cannot and when you absolutely must leave home, wear a cloth mask." The governor urged Pennsylvanians to reserve n-95 and paper masks for health care workers, and wear homemade cloth masks or other non-medical grade masks.
"Wearing a mask will help cut down the possibility that we might be infecting an innocent bystander," like grocery and pharmacy workers, who the governor said were "helping keep us alive by getting us the supplies we need." "We owe it to them to do everything we can to help keep them safe. Right now that means wearing a mask."
Universal masking is expected to be recommended by the CDC during the COVID-19 epidemic. This will be a change in the long-standing guidance predicated on the prevailing evidence that healthy lay-persons actually increase their likelihood of becoming sick by wearing a mask. The reason for the change is that the novel coronavirus is frequently spread by the infected before they show any symptoms. The mask will help prevent the unwary from spreading the disease. The Pennsylvania Department of Health guidance on personal masking contains instructions on how to make them. "My mask helps protects you," Dr. Levine said, "your mask helps protect me." Saying that any gathering "serves like a petri-dish for COVID-19," the governor also urged religious leaders to find alternatives to in-person worship, to "avoid endangering their congregants." The governor listed examples such as livestreaming services, or drive-in services, in which participants remain in their vehicles in a parking lot. At the conclusion of his remarks, the governor addressed reports of hatred directed against Pennsylvania residents of Asian descent. Noting that "Pennsylvania is a commonwealth founded on tolerance," the governor urged Pennsylvanians to report anti-Asian conduct and promised he would support prosecution of any such cases.