1,599 new cases in state, construction work can begin May 1

Schuylkill County reached the 300-case mark in the pandemic as Pennsylvania added close to 1,600 new cases and 71 new deaths to its count.

According to information released on Pa. Department of Health’s website, there are currently 38,652 confirmed cases, a increase of 1,599 cases in 24 hours.

Dauphin County reported 23 new positive cases on Tuesday, while 10 new positive tests were added in Schuylkill County and two more in Northumberland County, bringing Dauphin’s total to 468 cases with 19 deaths, Schuylkill up to 300 cases with five deaths, and Northumberland County at 84 confirmed cases.

Philadelphia County, the hot spot of the state, reported 417 new cases and one new death, putting their totals at 10,507 positive cases and 272 deaths.

Governor Tom Wolf announced Thursday that construction projects can begin in the state on May 1, one week before the current stay-at-home order ends.

Previously, Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine ordered most construction projects to cease unless they were supporting life-sustaining businesses or activities or were granted an exemption to perform or support life-sustaining activities.

“My administration has taken measured, aggressive steps to protect public health and safety, including strictly limiting the types of businesses and projects that may continue to operate during this unprecedented time,” Wolf said. “Thankfully, these actions are working, and we are flattening the curve. As we start to take steps to reopen the state, we recognize that the construction industry is vital to Pennsylvania’s economy and may operate safely with stringent guidance in place that will protect employees and the public.”

The guidance, developed from guidance created by the General Contractors Association of Pennsylvania, provides universal protocols for all construction activity, as well as specific additional guidance for residential, commercial and public construction projects.

All business and employees in the construction industry must adhere to the Secretary of Health’s order providing for business safety measures, which requires that every person present at a work site wear masks/face coverings unless they are unable for medical or safety reasons and requires that businesses establish protocols upon discovery that the business has been exposed to a person who is a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19.

All construction projects must maintain proper social distancing and provide hand washing and sanitizing stations for workers, as well as cleaning and sanitizing protocols for high risk transmission areas. Businesses must identify a “pandemic safety officer” for each project or work site, or, for large scale construction projects, for each contractor at the site.

Residential construction projects may not permit more than four individuals on the job site at any time, not including individuals who require temporary access to the site and are not directly engaged in the construction activity.

While optimistic, officials say that the public’s effort on social distancing and wearing masks must continue to get things back to normal as the state looms on a May 8 date to possibly begin repopening parts of the state through the Governor’s three-tiered plan.

“As we start to see the number of new COVID-19 cases continually change across the state that does not mean we can stop practicing social distancing,” Levine said. “We must continue to stay home to protect ourselves, our families and our community. If you must go out, please make as few trips as possible and wear a mask to protect not only yourself, but others. We need all Pennsylvanians to continue to heed these efforts to protect our vulnerable Pennsylvanians, our health care workers and frontline responders.”

As far as negative tests for each county, Dauphin is listed as having 2,831 negative tests while Schuylkill reported 1,666 negative tests and 392 in Northumberland County.

In nursing home and long-term care facilities, Dauphin County is listed in the table having three facilities, 66 cases among residents (five up from yesterday), 11 cases among employees (up one from yesterday) and 10 deaths. Schuylkill County has two positive cases in two nursing homes, one resident and one employee, and Northumberland County has its first case in a nursing care facility with a resident having the virus  All total, 418 facilities are reporting 6,153 cases among residents and 726 among employees, and have accounted for 903 of Pennsylvania’s 1,492 deaths attributed to the coronavirus.

The state also updated numbers of age ranges of the positive cases and hospitalizations to date. Currently 2,746 Pennsylvania residents are hospitalized with the virus and its complications, down four people from the day before.

The breakdown is as follows:

Positive cases

Ages 0-4, <1%; 5-12, <1%; 13-18, 1%; 19-24, 6%; 25-49, 38%; 50-64, 28%, 65+, 25%


Ages 0-29, 2%; 30-49, 5%; 50-64, 10%; 65-79, 20%; 80+, 20%

The counties affected and the number of confirmed cases, with the number of deaths in parentheses, are:

Adams-110 (1), Allegheny-1,177 (71), Armstrong-43 (2), Beaver-337 (46), Bedford-21 (1),  Berks-2,339 (87), Blair-19, Bradford-28 (2), Bucks-2,283 (152), Butler-168 (6), Cambria-20 (1), Cameron-1 Carbon-160 (12), Centre-77 (1), Chester-1,064 (77), Clarion-22 (1), Clearfield-11, Clinton-17, Columbia-252 (7), Crawford-19, Cumberland-240 (8), Dauphin-468 (19), Delaware-3,055 (129), Elk-2, Erie-72, Fayette-75 (4), Forest-7, Franklin-164 (1), Fulton-2, Greene-25, Huntingdon-20, Indiana-62 (4), Jefferson-4, Juniata-77, Lackawanna-735 (61), Lancaster-1,451 (74), Lawrence-61 (5), Lebanon-575 (6), Lehigh-2,478 (49), Luzerne-1,921 (62), Lycoming-48, McKean-5, Mercer-64 (1), Mifflin-26, Monroe-1,037 (44), Montgomery-3,525 (208), Montour-47, Northampton-1,716 (46), Northumberland-84, Perry-25 (1), Philadelphia-10,507 (272), Pike-338 (12), Potter-4, Schuylkill-300 (5), Snyder-31 (1), Somerset-22, Sullivan-1, Susquehanna-76 (4), Tioga-14 (1), Union-31, Venango-7, Warren-1 (0), Washington-96 (2), Wayne-88 (3), Westmoreland-317 (17), Wyoming-17 (2), York-563 (8).

As of noon April 23, there have been 147,491 negative tests for the coronavirus, an increase of 5,430 over the day before.

What is coronavirus?

According to the Pa. Department of Health, coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common throughout the world. These viruses can live in animals and at times, evolve and infect people before spreading through human to human contact.

Human coronaviruses are spread just like the common cold or the flu — either through the air through coughing or sneezing, through close personal contact like touching or shaking hands, or by touching an object or surface with the virus on it.

Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. The symptoms can appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after a person is exposed to the illness. Reported illnesses have ranged from people with little to no symptoms to severe illness and death. As of April 22, the U.S. Center for Disease Control reports there have been 828,441 cases of the Coronavirus reported in the U.S. with 46,379 deaths.

What can you do?

Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
Cover any coughs or sneezes with your elbow, not your hands.
Clean surfaces frequently.
Stay home to avoid spreading COVID-19, especially if you are unwell. If you need to go out and will be around other people, wear a mask.
The Pa. Department of Health offers these guidelines as the COVID-19 crisis continues.

Stay home as much as possible. Try to get groceries once per week instead of daily. Freedom of travel remains, but please refrain from non-essential travel. Essential travel includes things like commuting to an essential job, picking up supplies like groceries and medicine, and checking on family and pets in other households. Do not host or attend gatherings.