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Wolf: Masking slows spread

Despite rise in cases, Wolf won’t repeat general restrictions

Despite a recent rise in coronavirus cases in Allegheny County that led to a ban there Sunday on alcohol sales in bars and restaurants, the state isn’t looking to return to the general restrictions it recently left behind, according to Gov. Tom Wolf.

“Surgical” interventions like Allegheny County’s is the preferred response now, given increased recent knowledge about COVID-19 and additional resources for testing and contact tracing, Wolf said Monday at a press conference in Harrisburg.

But general tactics remain critical, including social distancing, handwashing and especially masking in public, which needs to become a social imperative — like refraining from cigarettes in public spaces indoors, according to Wolf and Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine.

Banning alcohol sales in bars is a decision best left to individual counties at this time, as there is no longer a need for the kind of broad prohibitions like the state’s closure of all non-essential businesses, Wolf said.

“What works in Allegheny County doesn’t necessarily work in Tioga,” he said.

But all Pennsylvanians need to redouble their adherence to masking, according to Wolf.

They need to do it not because of enforcement concerns or penalties they may incur — even though masking is required for entry into any business, he said.

They should do it out of self-interest, and out of respect and care for others, whom they can infect if they don’t comply, he said.

They should obey the masking requirement, despite the inconvenience, he said.

Businesses also should enforce it, perhaps with a sign in front stating that masks are required — the equivalent of “No shoes, no shirt, no service,” Wolf said.

They should do it for the sake of their employees and all of their customers, he said.

It needs to become a habit, according to Wolf.

“The best thing we can do is internalize this,” he stated.

“It is a pain in the neck, but it’s not that hard,” Levine said. “It needs to become socially unacceptable not to.”

Yet, the administration isn’t advocating physical confrontation, either by the businesses or compliant customers, Levine said.

One non-confrontational way for businesses to respond to those who enter without a mask is to offer a complimentary one, Levine suggested.

“We have to change the way we live to keep each other safe,” Wolf said. “Whether we like it or not, infectious disease is now a part of our (existence).”

Wolf doesn’t plan to institute a quarantine for people coming from states that have recently had COVID-19 surges, like Florida, Texas and Arizona. It would be difficult to enforce, he suggested.

Still, it would behoove people coming from any of those states to quarantine themselves for 14 days, he indicated.

“Enforcement is up to you,” Wolf said.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.

Sat., Sun., Mon. COVID-19 numbers

New/total county cases: Blair 3/72 (1 death); Bedford 5/81 (3 deaths); Cambria 11/78 (3 deaths); Centre 3/201 (7 deaths, including one new death, reported Saturday); Clearfield 0/72; Huntingdon 6/251 (4 deaths, although SCI-Huntingdon has reported 5 deaths)

Area new/total cases: 28/755

New/total cases statewide: 1,618/85,988 (78 percent recovered), 633 positive serology tests

New/total deaths statewide: 35/6,614

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