Pennsylvania now requires people to wear face masks in their homes if they’ve got people from other households visiting.
This is just one of many new COVID-19 mitigation orders issued Tuesday by state Health Secretary Rachel Levine in response to a rising number of reported cases.
In Schuylkill County, the state reports that we have a 12.7% positivity rate on COVID tests and in the last month or so, there has been a rise in the number of reported positive cases and reported COVID-related deaths locally.
Face Masks Must Be Worn in Homes in Pennsylvania
The new orders outlined on Tuesday afternoon are as follows:
New Face Mask Orders
The new face mask orders in Pennsylvania actually “strengthens” the previous order but doesn’t come with any enforcement threats.
According to today’s press briefing and information released by the Dept. of Health:
- Masks must be worn indoors and outdoors when outside of your home.
- Masks must be worn indoors and outdoors even if you’re socially distanced from others.
These orders apply to any “indoor facility” including:
- Retail stores
- Doctors’ offices
- On public transportation
- In food prep areas
“Wearing a mask is one of the simplest steps to take to slow the spread of COVID-19,” Levine said to reporters on Tuesday, also admitted that she believe a “majority” of Pennsylvanians do wear masks when they’re supposed to. “We must all be diligent in wearing masks all the time.”
Like in the past, there’s no plan for the state to start enforcing these rules. Instead, Pennsylvania is putting that on businesses.
“It is the responsibility of businesses to enforce the universal masking orders. We don’t want that to lead to conflict,” she said.
Testing Mandate for Travelers In and Out of Pennsylvania
New orders were also issued on Tuesday related to interstate travel and COVID testing.
Levine says it’s now required that people who enter Pennsylvania from another state must get a COVID test within 72 hours of getting here and it must be negative. That can be people entering by any means of transportation.
If a person entering Pennsylvania does not get a test, they’re ordered to self-quarantine for 14 days after arriving.
However, like the updated mask order, there is no plan to enforce it.
“We can’t check every car in Pennsylvania and we have no plans to check people on planes,” Levine said. “These measures are similar to what other states are doing. What we’re asking is for people not to travel. If people are going to travel into our state, we want them to have a negative test within 72 hours.”
This rule also applies to Pennsylvanians who leave the state and want to come back for any reason other than work. This order goes into effect on Friday, Nov. 20.
No Color Phases
Levine responded to a press question about the possibility of reinstating the color-coded system used to emerge from the most draconian lockdown phases of the pandemic.
She said there is no plan to go back to the Red, Yellow, or Green “scheme” used earlier in 2020. Levine did say that Tuesday’s updated orders were “an important START” to targeted mitigation efforts from the Pennsylvania Health Dept.
Another part of the orders called on colleges and universities to implement a testing strategy and routines for testing and reporting of COVID cases. And she called on schools to enforce masking and social distancing policies.
Levine also said that based on data provided by the White House Coronavirus Task Force, Pennsylvania could run out of ICU beds in December. She called on hospitals to move up and reduce any elective procedures.
You can watch the full press conference below:
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