HARRISBURG — The Wolf Administration on Tuesday announced four new COVID-19 mitigation efforts, according to a news release from the state Department of Health.
State Secretary of Health Rachel Levine issued a memorandum to acute care hospitals outlining expectations to care for Pennsylvanians who need care during the pandemic.
Hospitals are to work through the established health care coalitions and other partnerships to prepare for how they will support one another in the event that a hospital becomes overwhelmed during the pandemic.
Hospitals should also be working to move up elective procedures necessary to protect a person’s health and prepare to suspend them if the health care system becomes strained.
Restrictions on elective surgeries put into effect in March and lifted in April were to help with both personal protective equipment and bed capacity and were considered successful.
Hospitalizations are increasing, as are ICU patients, and according to modeling from the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, which does not take into account hospitalizations from influenza, Pennsylvania will run out of intensive care beds in December if ICU admissions continue at the current rate.
The same modeling indicates there will be sufficient medical-surgical beds with some uncertainty as to capacity from region to region.
Levine issued an order requiring anyone who visits from another state to have a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours prior to entering the commonwealth.
If someone cannot get a test or chooses not to, they must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvanians visiting other states are required to have a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours prior to their return to the commonwealth or to quarantine for 14 days upon return to Pennsylvania.
This order, which takes effect on Friday, does not apply to people who commute to and from another state for work or medical treatment.
Strengthened masking order
Levine first issued a masking order on April 15. The order signed today strengthens this initial order with the following inclusions:
— Masks are required to be worn indoors and outdoors if you are away from your home.
— When outdoors, a mask must be worn if you are not able to remain physically distant (at least 6 feet away) from someone not in your household the entire time you are outdoors.
— When indoors, masks will now be required even if you are physically distant from members not in your household. This means that even if you are able to be 6 feet apart, you will need to wear a mask while inside if with people other than members of your household.
— The order applies to every indoor facility, including homes, retail establishments, gyms, doctors offices, public transportation and anywhere food is prepared, packaged or served.
Colleges and universities
The departments of Health and Education issued recommendations for colleges and universities to implement a testing plan for when students return to campus following the holidays.
These recommendations include establishing routine protocols for testing.
Colleges and universities should have adequate capacity for isolation and quarantine and should be prepared to enforce violations of established policies such as mask wearing and physical distancing.
Every college and university should test all students at the beginning of each term, when returning to campus after a break and to have regular screening testing throughout the semester/term.