Despite signs that the spread of covid-19 is starting to decline, state and county officials on Thursday stressed the importance of continuing the stringent social distancing measures that have helped flatten the curve in Pennsylvania.
Meanwhile, a demonstration against business closures and social distancing is scheduled for noon on Monday at the State Capitol in Harrisburg.
“Government mandating sick people to stay home is called quarantine,” said Pennsylvanians Against Excessive Quarantine in a statement. “However, the government mandating healthy citizens to stay home, forcing businesses and churches to close is called tyranny. Business owners are being forced to lay off employees while the unemployment system is failing those laid off as the economy free falls.”
Secretary of Health Rachel Levine said the anti-shutdown protest could pose a danger to the demonstrators.
“If a gathering like that happens, and they’re not practicing social distancing and they are not wearing gloves and not washing their hands, etc., then they will be more at risk from contracting the dangerous virus COVID-19,” she said.
“I think that we ought to stay the course right now,” Gov. Wolf said Thursday. “It is hard, it is devastating the economy, no question about it, but letting this virus overwhelm the health care system and the ability of Pennsylvanians to resist it would be even worse for the economy.”
Bucks County officials on Thursday also urged citizens to “hold tight” and not ease up on social distancing.
“We feel like there has been a little bit of a plateau in terms of the cases that we have been seeing, so we are seeing a glimmer of hope,” Commissioner Bob Harvie said Thursday during a virtual news conference streamed live on the county’s Facebook page. “We’re only probably at halftime right now; it’s not the end of the game. So let’s all be very conscious of the fact that we have to keep social distancing.”
“I think people are getting used to the idea of social distancing and wearing masks in public,” commented Bucks County Health Director Dr. David Damsker on Thursday. “I think people are taking it very seriously, more so than a month ago, and I think we want to continue to encourage those things.”
Bucks County Commissioner Bob Harvie said officials in the five-county Philadelphia region have talked daily about forming a plan for reopening the region once the threat recedes sufficiently. He said officials in Philadelphia have begun drawing up an outline for what he called “a regional approach to opening up Southeast Pennsylvania,” but that there is no set date for having a plan in place.
Commissioners also announced that Bucks County park trails and parking lots would reopen for public use on Monday, but that facilities at the parks – restrooms, pavilions, playgrounds, boat rentals and other amenities – would remain closed. They urged people who have yards or other venues for exercise to avoid the parks to help prevent crowding.