Courthouse

SMETHPORT — On Wednesday, Gov. Tom Wolf amended the “Stay at Home” order to include McKean County beginning at 8 p.m.

The order went out to include all 67 counties in Pennsylvania.

McKean County Commissioners Tom Kreiner, Carol Duffy, and Cliff Lane and District Attorney Stephanie Vettenburg-Shaffer agree that it is imperative that residents follow the established mitigations plan.

“We need to limit the exposure as best we possibly can,” emphasized Kreiner. “Several other counties in Pennsylvania have been under the Stay at Home order for some time and Cameron and Forest Counties were added recently, now McKean County must take action.”

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf indicated nearly 1,000 new cases have been identified since yesterday and it is spreading rapidly across the state, in every corner of the state. With a deep concern for all Pennsylvanians, he is asking for full compliance and urging that you should not leave your home until absolutely necessary. This Stay at Home order will remain in place until April 30, 2020.

“We Pennsylvanians want to survive and we want our friends and our families and our neighbors to survive, too. We want to get through this as quickly but as safely as possible, so we can restart our economy and get back to work, said Wolf. “We will all work together in this. It’s our only choice.”

“Some of you might think that a month is too long to go without seeing your friends or family, but if won’t do everything we can to slow the spread of COVID-19, there are some people who you will never see again,” warned Wolf. “We know if we implement strong mitigation efforts, we can stomp down that curve. Please assume everyone has the virus, including yourself. Avoid leaving your house like someone’s life depends on it, because ultimately someone’s life does depend on it”

The Stay at Home order does not prohibit residents from leaving their homes altogether, nor is it intended to be a curfew. The intent of the order is to ensure that people self-isolate in their place of residence, but people can continue to do things that are absolutely necessary.

The order is intended to reinforce that we should be staying at our homes except for essential activities and work that provides life-sustaining business and government services. Because the Coronavirus, or “COVID-19,” is easily transmitted, separating ourselves from other people is a critical step in preventing the spread of the disease. The intent of the order is to ensure that people remain at home while continuing to provide life-sustaining services.

“The Stay at Home order requires we Stay at Home except for allowable activities and essential travel and, when we have to leave our homes, to remain at least 6 feet from other people and practice other safety measures such as washing our hands frequently,” stated Vettenburg-Shafer. “Of course, many people in the county continue to work at jobs deemed life-sustaining and they face the risk of infection every day.”

“Law enforcement’s objective will be to educate people on the order and continue to address any issues that may arise in a calm and rational approach. Ultimately, we are all in this together and the sooner we isolate ourselves and prevent the spread of the disease, the sooner we can return to our normal lives,” noted Vettenburg-Shaffer.

The Governor’s Office has provided guidance in complying with the order, a summary of which is below.

ALLOWABLE INDIVIDUAL ACTIVITIES

  • Tasks essential to maintain health and safety, or the health and safety of their family or household members (including, but not limited to, pets), such as obtaining medicine or medical supplies, visiting a health care professional, or obtaining supplies they need to work from home.
  • Getting necessary services or supplies for themselves or their family or household members, or to deliver those services or supplies to others, such as getting food and household consumer products, pet food, and supplies necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences. This includes volunteer efforts to distribute meals and other life-sustaining services to those in need.
  • Engaging in outdoor activity, such as walking, hiking or running if they maintain social distancing.
  • To perform work providing essential products and services at a life-sustaining business (see below for details about life-sustaining business activities).
  • To care for a family member or pet in another household.

ALLOWABLE ESSENTIAL TRAVEL

  • Any travel related to the provision of or access to the above-mentioned individual activities or life-sustaining business activities (see below for details about life-sustaining business activities).
  • Travel to care for elderly, minors, dependents, persons with disabilities, or other vulnerable persons.
  • Travel to or from educational institutions for purposes of receiving materials for distance learning, for receiving meals, and any other related services.
  • Travel to return to a place of residence from an outside jurisdiction.
  • Travel required by law enforcement or court order.
  • Travel required for non-residents to return to their place of residence outside the commonwealth.

ALLOWABLE LIFE ESSENTIAL BUSINESS.

Nothing in this order shall be construed to affect the operations of the following:

  • Health care or medical service providers.
  • Access to life-sustaining services for low-income residents, including, but not limited to, food banks.
  • Access to child care services for employees of life-sustaining businesses that remain open as follows: child care facilities operating under the Department of Human Services, Office of Child Development and Early Learning waiver process; group and family child care operating in a residence; and part-day school age programs operating under an exemption from the March 19, 2020 business closure Orders.
  • The news media.
  • Law enforcement.
  • The federal government.
  • Religious institutions.

Residents are asked to limit the number of outings for essentials to reduce chances of exposure. The goal of shelter in place is to reduce the spread of the virus in order to decrease the impact on healthcare services and to “flatten the curve,” noted Kreiner. “On Tuesday, March 31, the state saw its’ largest single day increase as of yet, bringing confirmed cases in the state to 5,805 with 74 COVID-19 related deaths.”

The White House response team has issued a warning that America must brace for 100,000 – 250,000 Americans to die in the coming months.

“As sobering as that is, we should be prepared for it,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top immunologist and advisor the White House response team.

“We have been monitoring all news briefings very carefully,” added Duffy.

In a news briefing on March 31, President Trump indicated that the 100,000 number could be a floor, not a ceiling. The president expressed concern that when you see 100,000 people and that’s a minimum and it’s unlikely you’ll be able to attain that.

During the press conference, Trump said, “This is a matter of life and death.”

Lane indicated, “More than 80% of Americans currently live under a Stay at Home order. As of Wednesday, 34 U.S. state have issued stay at home orders, asking residents to shelter in place and go out only for essential services like buying food and medicine.”

The Stay at Home order goes into effect at 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday, April 1 for all counties in Pennsylvania. Governor Tom Wolf indicated this order will remain in effect until April 30, 2020.

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