Pool safety encouraged by Wolf, softball tournament cancelled

The Department of Health today urged all Pennsylvanians to practice social distancing, wear masks and be aware of pool safety concerns as Pennsylvanians enjoy the summer days outside. Face masks should not be worn in the water as a wet face covering may make it difficult to breathe.

If you are at a private or public pool with other people outside of your household, it is important to continue to practice social distancing and to wear masks to help prevent the further spread of COVID-19, Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. Face masks should not be worn in the water as a wet face covering may make it difficult to breathe. In addition to the threat of COVID-19, Pennsylvanians need to take the proper steps to ensure they have a safe and fun time at the pool.

It is important to take the following precautions before going to the pool:

Have a responsible adult watch young children playing in or around water (in addition to lifeguards);
Use the buddy system (never swim alone);
Learn to swim;
Learn CPR;
Locate the lifesaving equipment before entering the pool;
Have a phone by the pool and know who to contact in an emergency;
Never enter water that is cloudy;
Know your role in preventing recreational water illnesses; and
Know the local weather conditions and forecast before swimming.
Public pools were permitted to reopen in the yellow and green phases of the Governors phased-in reopening plan, provided they follow CDC guidance.

On July 1, 2020, the Secretary of Health mandated masks to be worn in all public places. While at public pools, Pennsylvanians should continue to use cloth face coverings as feasible. Face masks should not be worn in the water as a wet face covering may make it difficult to breathe. For activities in the water, like swimming, it is particularly important to maintain physical distance from others. For more information about the mask guidance order, visit here.

In addition to pool safety, Pennsylvanians need to remember to wear sunscreen and take precautions to protect themselves in extreme summer weather. Sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher with broad spectrum coverage can help protect the skin from dangerous sunburns and decrease the chances of developing serious sun-exposure-related health conditions. For more information about sunscreen and heat safety, visit here.

Locally, organizers of the Rick Kline Memorial Slow Pitch Softball Tournament announced on July 6 that the tournament was being cancelled for 2020.

“Our committee wanted to hold the tournament this year, even under the circumstances,” the Facebook post read. “We started out with high hopes but as time went on and with all personal feelings aside about the circumstances, it started to dwindle.”

Organizers said they will return next year bigger and better than ever.

“We will be back next year better, we will be back and planning even harder to ensure all who participate, attend, sponsor, donate, volunteer, and all else know how much we care about the community and how much the tournament means to us.” the post reads. “Thank you and know we are so sorry. We pray our world is in a better place soon.”

According to figures released by the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Pennsylvania added 719 new cases of the coronavirus on Thursday. The state has 92,867 cases of the virus since the first case was discovered in March.

The state added 36 souls to the death toll putting the numbers at 6,848

Dauphin County added 11 new cases and five deaths to their totals on Thursday, while Northumberland County added five cases and Schuylkill County added four new cases and one death. The current counts of cases in the three counties of the Citizen-Standard coverage area stands with Dauphin County at a total to 2,247 cases with 148 deaths, Schuylkill stands at 765 cases with 47 deaths, and Northumberland County is at 334 cases and eight deaths.

In comparison, Philadelphia County, the hot spot of the state, added 161 cases and five deaths Thursday, putting their totals at 22,553 positive cases and 1,633 deaths since the coronavirus first hit in March..

With case numbers rising for a second time, state health officials say that mask wearing is needed to stem the rising numbers.

“As the entire state is now in the green phase, we must remain committed to protecting against COVID-19 by wearing a mask, practicing social distancing and avoiding large gatherings,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “Pennsylvania has been a model for the country on how to reopen effectively using a careful, measured approach. However, the virus has not gone away and we are seeing cases rise, especially in Southwest Pennsylvania.”

Mask-wearing is required in all businesses and whenever leaving home. Consistent mask-wearing is critical to preventing the spread of COVID-19.

The department is seeing significant increases in the number of COVID-19 cases among younger age groups, particularly 19 to 24-year-olds. An alert was sent to healthcare providers over the weekend about the changing COVID-19 case demographics, as there are more cases in younger age groups than in those 50-64 and 65+. The following regions have seen significant increases among 19 to 24-year-olds in each month from April to present in July:

In nursing and personal care homes, there are 18,092 resident cases of COVID-19, and 3,396 cases among employees, for a total of 21,488 at 732 distinct facilities in 55 counties. Out of our total deaths, 4,667 have occurred in residents from nursing or personal care facilities. Approximately 6,964 of our total cases are in health care workers.

As far as negative tests for each county, Dauphin is listed as having 19,883 negative tests while Schuylkill reported 8,864 negative tests and 4,146 in Northumberland County.

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

Adams-366 (13), Allegheny-4,367 (193), Armstrong-80 (6), Beaver-796 (79), Bedford-91 (4), Berks-4,647 (356), Blair-93 (1), Bradford-59 (3), Bucks-6,003 (571), Butler-396 (13), Cambria-113 (3), Cameron-4, Carbon-293 (27), Centre-235 (8), Chester-3,918 (332), Clarion-49 (2), Clearfield-82, Clinton-91 (4), Columbia-416 (35), Crawford-76 (1), Cumberland-922 (66), Dauphin-2,247 (148), Delaware-7,447 (664), Elk-29, Erie-699 (12), Fayette-163 (4), Forest-7, Franklin-989 (46), Fulton-19 (1), Greene-56, Huntingdon-254 (4), Indiana-121 (6), Jefferson-34 (1), Juniata-114 (6), Lackawanna-1,749 (209), Lancaster-4,711 (377), Lawrence-146 (9), Lebanon-1,404 (47), Lehigh-4,370 (315), Luzerne-2,979 (179), Lycoming-234 (20), McKean-20 (1), Mercer-161 (6), Mifflin-70 (1), Monroe-1,456 (111), Montgomery-8,749 (822), Montour-76 (2), Northampton-3,513 (276), Northumberland-339 (8), Perry-89 (5), Philadelphia-22,553 (1,633), Pike-504 (21), Potter-17, Schuylkill-765 (47), Snyder-72 (2), Somerset-69 (1), Sullivan-10, Susquehanna-190 (25), Tioga-27 (2), Union-97 (2), Venango-35, Warren-7 (1), Washington-366 (6), Wayne-141 (8), Westmoreland-917 (39), Wyoming-41 (7), York-1,714 (57).

As of midnight July 9, there have been 787,156 negative tests for the coronavirus. The state also said that 77 percent of the confirmed cases have recovered. If a case has not been reported as a death, and it is more than 30 days past the date of their first positive test (or onset of symptoms) then an individual is considered recovered.

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 July 7, the U.S. Center for Disease Control reports there have been 2,982,900 cases of the Coronavirus reported in the U.S. with 131,065 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 must go out for a life-sustaining reason, please 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.