PHILADELPHIA (CBS/AP) — More drastic measures are being taken by Pennsylvania officials in an attempt to mitigate the rapid spread of the coronavirus. Gov. Tom Wolf placed all of Pennsylvania under a stay-at-home order as the number of coronavirus cases in the commonwealth is now over 6,000.
Pennsylvania health officials announced 962 new COVID-19 cases as the statewide total jumped to 6,009. The death toll climbed to 81 after 11 more people died from the virus.
In one stroke, Wolf added 34 counties to his stay-home edict, meaning that residents of all 67 of Pennsylvania’s counties must now stay home as much as possible to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
“I am optimistic that people across the state will comply and remain in their homes,” Wolf said during Wednesday’s briefing.
The order goes into effect at 8 p.m. tonight and will last at least through April 30. Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs were already under a stay-at-home order.
“Some of you might think that a month is too long to go without seeing your friends and family, but if we don’t do everything we can to slow the spread of COVID-19, there are some people you will never see again,” Wolf said.
Residents may leave their homes for a number of reasons that include working at a business that’s still open, going to the grocery store or pharmacy, visiting a doctor, caring for a relative or heading outside to exercise. Police will continue to focus on informing residents of the order rather than on enforcement, according to the governor’s office.
Schools and nonessential businesses are closed until further notice.
In Philadelphia, the number of coronavirus cases in Philadelphia is nearing 1,700 as health officials reported a jump of 360 cases on Wednesday. The citywide total now stands at 1,675.
The COVID-19 death toll has climbed to 15 in Philadelphia.
Up until now there’s been a lack of racial data when it comes to testing, but health officials were seeing a rise in numbers in the African American community. Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said Wednesday that 528 case investigations were completed and officials found that within that group, 46% of African Americans contracted the virus.
Breaking it down further, Farley says 37% of the case investigations who tested positive were among white residents, 10% were of Hispanic residents, 3% were of Asian residents in the city and 4% were of other races.
“This virus is affecting all populations of Philadelphia,” Farley said.
In Montgomery County, health officials announced two more deaths, bringing the county total to 10. An 86-year-old woman from Plymouth Township and an 83-year-old man from Rockledge passed away from the virus.
Delaware County also reported two more deaths — an 87-year-old woman from Marple Township and a 69-year-old man from Marple Township. The county’s death toll now stands at eight.
For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up in a couple of weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems are at higher risk of more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.
CBS3’s Natasha Brown contributed to this report.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)