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Pennsylvania Confirms First Coronavirus-Related Death

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Gov. Tom Wolf
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Gov. Tom Wolf delivers a video address from his home in York County on Wednesday, March 18, 2020. His remarks were simultaneously translated into American Sign Language by a state employee in Harrisburg.

Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration on Wednesday confirmed Pennsylvania’s first death linked to the coronavirus outbreak. The person was an adult from Northampton County and was being treated at a hospital.

Wolf said the death underscores the importance of social distancing.

“Today’s is just the first death of what will become many,” Wolf said in a video message, delivered early Wednesday evening from his home in York County. “And our only hope is to keep our hospitals from being overwhelmed so our medical professionals can do the most they can.”

[Watch Wolf’s remarks on YouTube or Facebook.]

Wolf said he wouldn’t provide additional details about the patient for the sake of the family’s privacy

As the coronavirus continues to spread in Pennsylvania, the governor urged gyms, many retail centers and other businesses considered non-essential to close their doors. The state has already shut down many functions, including driver’s license centers, state-owned wine and liquor stores, and K-12 schools. Restaurants and bars were also ordered to stop dine-in services.

“As a business person and a father, this was an incredibly difficult decision for me to make. I understand the importance of providing for your family,” Wolf said. “But every day that goes by that people continue to freely interact is a day that the virus continues to knowingly infect more and more people.”

The Pennsylvania Department of Health reported 133 COVID-19 confirmed cases as of the end of Tuesday. That number grew by at least one during the day as Lancaster County reported its first coronavirus infection.