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State Officials Warn Pennsylvanians To Stay Home, Stop Short Of New Restrictions

Governor Tom Wolf again pleaded with Pennsylvanians to follow protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19 across the Commonwealth on Monday.

As the fall resurgence of COVID-19 cases continues to set records, Gov. Tom Wolf pleaded with Pennsylvanians to follow mitigation protocols Monday. Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine issued a stay at home advisory two weeks ago, but the effort has not stemmed the spread of COVID-19.

Wolf did not announce new statewide restrictions, but repeatedly hinted that they may be forthcoming. He and Levine asked Pennsylvanians to stay home as much as possible, avoid gatherings and to wear a mask when not at home.

Wolf said his administration is exploring mitigation efforts but declined to elaborate further, promising more details in the coming days. “We are looking at all sorts of issues right now and very shortly we’ll come back with more recommendations,” he said.

Maureen Casey, a nurse at Hershey Medical Center, made a dire appeal to those who aren’t following protocols requested by officials. She said her hospital is at capacity with COVID-19 patients.

“Like waves on a shore, it just keeps coming,” she said. “Nurses go home, cry in the shower, cry in their car alone because of the desperation and exhaustion they feel as a nurse,” said Casey.

Levine noted that Pennsylvania hospitals are currently well-stocked with personal protective equipment and ventilators, but warned that resources are not infinite.

Earlier Monday, Wolf on Twitter called for officials to extend federal unemployment programs through 2021. Many are set to expire at the end of December.

In a series of tweets, Wolf pinpointed the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which covers those who do not qualify under regular unemployment compensation; the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, which provides up to 13 weeks of additional assistance to those who've exhausted their benefits; and the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, which gave $600 per week in addition to a weekly unemployment benefit.

Deputy Secretary of Health Preparedness and Community Protection Ray Barishanksy noted that flu season has begun across Pennsylvania, creating a risk of further strain on hospitals. “We cannot afford to have a flu epidemic in Pennsylvania in the middle of this global pandemic,” he said.

Barishansky said two strains of influenza have been detected in Pennsylvania through laboratory testing, but activity remains low.

The state reported Monday that there were 6,330 new COVID-19 cases, in addition to 8,630 new cases reported Sunday, bringing the statewide total to 426,444. There are 5,300 individuals hospitalized with COVID-19 and 1,107 of those patients are in the intensive care unit with COVID-19.

The Allegheny County Health Department reported 1,470 new COVID-19 cases in the last 48 hours. Two dozen of those cases come from tests more than a week old, and one test was from May. Those infected range in age from 1 week to 102 years old. The county also reported four new deaths.

Kiley Koscinski covers city government, policy and how Pittsburghers engage with city services. She also works as a fill-in host for All Things Considered. Kiley has previously served as a producer on The Confluence and Morning Edition.