COVID-19 Update, May 5: New cases look to be edging downward, statewide

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times @mikemcgannpa

Pennsylvania is clearly either seeing a plateau or gradual decline in the number of COVID-19 cases, but the toll of the virus becomes clear as the state Department of Health (DOH) said Tuesday it discovered an additional 554 new deaths over the last two weeks as new data was compiled statewide.

DOH reported 865 new cases Tuesday, bringing the total of COVID-19 cases to 50,957 in the state. The additional death toll brings the total to 3,012 deaths statewide.

“As we prepare to move a number of counties from red to yellow, we need all Pennsylvanians to continue to follow the social distancing and mitigation efforts in place,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “We must continue to protect our most vulnerable Pennsylvanians, which includes our seniors, those with underlying health issues, our healthcare workers and our first responders. I am proud of the work that Pennsylvanians have done so far, but we cannot stop now, we must continue to take the necessary steps to protect ourselves from COVID-19.”

Chester County did not report new numbers by The Times 3 p.m. deadline, even as the US total of deaths passed 70,000.

The county is also participating this week in Resilience Week, which is intended to bring the community together, boost the resilience of the county and spread awareness on the importance of self-care. The county’s Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE’s) Coalition announced the initiative, Monday.

“Resilience is our ability to bounce back in the face of adversity, and there is no doubt that what we are experiencing with the COVID-19 pandemic is an adversity,” said Jeanne Casner, Director of the Chester County Health Department.

“We know that decisions you make during and after stressful times matter. This is why we are spreading awareness on ways to build resilience within our community for an entire week,” added Casner.

Resilience Week will highlight how residents of Chester County are working on their resilience, taking care of themselves and their families, and staying well during what county officials are calling a collective traumatic experience.

“We recognize the impact COVID-19 has had, and will continue to have on our community—we are facing a difficult time, and it is alright to experience feelings of anxiety, uncertainty and feel overwhelmed. In times like these, we must take care of ourselves and our families so that we can fully recover mind, body and spirit,” said Kim Bowman, Director of Chester County Department of Human Services.

County residents can join the Chester County ACE’s Coalition’s “Resilience Week” by sharing on social media how you and/or your family are building resilience in your community, promoting positivity and practicing self-care—make sure to tag social media post with #ChescoResilienceWeek. Also, be sure to check out the hashtag on social media for ideas from others on how they’re staying resilient and positive.

Meanwhile as businesses in 24 counties prepare to move from “red” to “yellow” status, Gov. Tom Wolf offered guidelines procedures businesses must follow to conduct in-person operations in counties slated to move to the yellow phase of reopening on May 8. All businesses, including non-profits, permitted to conduct in-person operations are subject to this guidance. This guidance is based on the building safety and business safety orders, under which nearly all life-sustaining businesses have been operating during the red phase.

“Businesses in the 24 counties that may reopen beginning May 8 must take precautions to protect their employees, their employees’ families, and their communities,” Gov. Wolf said. “First and foremost, businesses that have been operating using telework must continue to do so to prevent the spreading of COVID-19 until the stay-at-home and business closure orders are fully lifted when we enter a “green” phase.

“All businesses, but especially those that were closed completely during the red phase under the business closure orders, need to carefully review this guidance and commit to ensuring the health and safety of their employees and their communities.”

Under the yellow phase of reopening, life-sustaining businesses that could not conduct either all or part of their operations via telework will continue to conduct their operations in-person, and many non-life sustaining businesses will be permitted to restart their in-person operations through the loosening of some restrictions under the stay-at-home and business closure orders.

In counties that have been designated as in the yellow phase, all businesses, except those categories specifically listed as remaining closed in the governor’s Plan to Reopen Pennsylvania, are permitted to conduct in-person operations, as long as they strictly adhere to the requirements of the guidance.

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