HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS/AP) — Gov. Tom Wolf put another 2.5 million Pennsylvania residents under an order that restricts people from leaving home Friday. His administration confirmed more coronavirus cases and deaths and major facilities were enlisted to help with hospital overflows.
Health officials reported Friday an additional 531 COVID-19 cases, bringing the statewide total to 2,218.
Wolf, in a statement, added nine counties to 10 already covered by the order, for a total of 19 counties and three-fourths of the state’s 12.8 million residents.
The stay-at-home order went into effect at 8 p.m. Friday for Berks, Butler, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Luzerne, Pike, Wayne, Westmoreland and York counties, and will last until at least April 6.
The stay-at-home order restricts movement to certain health or safety-related travel, or travel to a job at an employer designated by Wolf’s administration as “life-sustaining.”
The measures are designed to slow the spread of the virus and give the state’s hospitals time to increase its staffing, equipment and bed space.
There is no curfew, and no reports of police arrests for someone breaking the order. City officials under the order have generally said that enforcement is focused on letting people know about it, breaking up crowds or closing public areas to prevent people from gathering.
Wolf issued the first stay-at-home order Monday, a day after Philadelphia issued its own, and Health Secretary Rachel Levine said it’s not clear yet whether the orders are effective.
“They haven’t been in place long enough,” Levine said at a news conference Friday. “It’ll take weeks and weeks to see the effect.”
Those new counties became candidates for the order as increases in confirmed coronavirus cases there grew to a “significant level and we have evidence of community spread,” Levine said.
Even before Friday, Wolf had closed schools statewide, urged people statewide to stay home and ordered thousands of “non-life-sustaining” businesses to close, an order that has drawn lawsuits in federal and state courts.
Levine said those orders won’t be relaxed until there is a consistent decline in the number of new cases that shows the measures are slowing the spread of the virus.
“We’re not there yet,” Levine said.
Meanwhile, Wolf signed a package of coronavirus-related legislation that passed the Legislature earlier this week.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said Friday that the city has reached an agreement with Temple University to use the Liacouras Center and possibly other Temple facilities for overflow hospital space, including the pavilion and parking garage.
The Liacouras Center is a 10,000-seat multi-purpose center and will be able to handle at least 250 patients at first. City officials say they are moving quickly to get supplies and the physical aspects of the facility set up.
Meanwhile, a shuttered reform school for boys in suburban Philadelphia may be used as a medical overflow facility.
The Glen Mills School has medical and dental facilities, an air field, a generator and a more than 85,000 square-foot athletic facility that could host patients from hospitals and other health care facilities.
Wolf’s administration said Friday that the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, along with federal and local government agencies, is assessing a number of sites across the state to become housing or medical facilities. No plans or agreements have been finalized, according to the administration.
As a whole, Pennsylvania has 37,000 hospital beds, although many are occupied.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)