HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) — Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has signed an emergency disaster declaration after announcing two presumed positive coronavirus cases in the state on Friday morning. Wolf says the cases are in Delaware and Wayne Counties and both patients are isolated in their homes.
“We anticipated this very scenario and have been preparing for Pennsylvanians to become impacted by this virus,” Wolf said. “This is not the first rapidly-spreading virus we have faced in our commonwealth and it will not be the last. We are prepared to mitigate the spread of the virus.”READ MORE: Abortion Rights Advocates Gather For Bans Off Our Bodies Protest In Philadelphia After SCOTUS Overturned Roe v. Wade
Officials say the infected adult from Wayne County had recently traveled to a country where Covid-19 is present. The other patient, an adult from Delaware County, was in part of the United States where the virus is present.
The patients are voluntarily cooperating to quarantine inside their homes and doing well.
Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine says it would be illegal for the patients to go out. While they are not using law enforcement to keep track of the patients, they are monitoring them daily through phone calls.
“We’re not monitoring with law enforcement, they’re voluntarily quarantining but it does have the force of law for these two individuals,” said Dr. Levine. “We’ll be monitoring them pretty much daily by phone to make sure that they are not getting sicker, if they are starting to get much more ill, we’ll arrange for them to get the medical care that they need.”
They are relying on the patients to self-report to officials and follow orders to stay inside their homes.
“I think, understandably, focus on the legal aspect here. This is something people really want to do,” Wolf said. “They have a self-interest in preserving their health and what I think the Department of Health is doing as Departments of Health have done in the past is to just indicate what people can do to ensure the best possible outcomes.”
Officials are working to track the patients’ contacts per the CDC guidelines.
The tests were run in a state lab in Exton, where they came back positive for Covid-19. Those results must be confirmed by the CDC before these are officially confirmed as Coronavirus cases.READ MORE: 11 Separate Shootings In Philadelphia Leave 2 Dead, 10 Others Injured: Police
The state is covering costs for coronavirus testing out of the state laboratory.
Commercial labs will be billing insurances for testing once they have access to it.
Wolf signed an emergency disaster declaration because the commonwealth does not have a health emergency declaration. The disaster declaration does not carry funding but it allows officials to work across agencies.
“It’s imperative that we continue to respond quickly and accurately to the coronavirus and its introduction into Pennsylvania,” Wolf said. “First and foremost, we want all Pennsylvanians to be safe and remain healthy and follow the practical advice of the Department of Health on ways to protect yourself from any virus and that’s by washing hands, covering your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough and staying home if you are sick.”
So far, there are 233 cases and 12 deaths related to the coronavirus in the U.S. — all of the fatal cases have been on the West Coast.
Central Bucks School District closed five schools on Friday after a person with a confirmed case of the virus attended a gathering in Bucks County exposing children and employees who work at the schools.
No one knew the person was infected with Covid-19 at the time of the gathering, including the out-of-state attendee, officials say.
Temple University is also taking precautions to stop the virus from spreading across the campus. All students and faculty members returning from study abroad or spring break in the five countries most affected by the coronavirus — China, Iran, South Korea, Japan or Italy — to stay away from campus.
They also are urging students to self-monitor for 14 days after arriving back in the United States.
The CDC expects cases to continue to be confirmed in the upcoming days and weeks but wants everyone to take action to help prevent the spread of the virus.MORE NEWS: Brandywine Valley SPCA, Other Shelters Holding Mega Adoption Event This Weekend
They say due to the “rapidly changing” nature of the spread around the world, families need to be prepared.