HARRISBURG — State officials announced Thursday morning that all schools will remain closed for the rest of the academic school year, marking the end of the 2019-2020 school year.
Governor Tom Wolf announced the decision after consultation with Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine and Secretary of Education Pedro A. Rivera.
While the physical schools are closed, teaching and learning may continues and schools are strongly encouraged to provide continuity of education for students in the most appropriate and accessible ways possible. Students and families can continue to pick up meals at designated sites.
“We must continue our efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus during this national crisis,” Wolf said. “This was not an easy decision by closing schools until the academic year is in the best interest of the students, school employees and families.
Secretary Rivera said the administration’s primary consideration has always been to make the best decision in the context of student and community health and safety.
“While the rapidly evolving COVID-19 Pandemic and its mitigation efforts have reached uncertainity in our schools and communities, Rivera said. “Today’s action to close schools for the remainder of the academic year provides school communities with predictability and understanding of the conditions under which they’ll be operating and serving students.”
Under the state’s directive, schools could begin summer programming on the day after their academic year ends. Secretary Rivera added that all re-openings will be contingent on public health guidance provided by the Secretary of Health and stay-at-home orders issued by the governor.
While details have not yet been reported, Schuylkill County has been added to the list of counties were a death has occurred since the pandemic crisis began on March 6. The death was one of 28 reported in the state in the last 24 hours with Lackawanna reporting six deaths Delaware and Northampton County reporting three deaths each, two deaths each in Allegheny and Lehigh, and deaths Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Chester, Lancaster, Luzerne, and York
According to information released on Pa. Department of Health’s website April 9, there are currently 18,228 confirmed cases, a jump of 1,680 cases in 24 hours.
Schuylkill County reported 13 new positive cases while 12 were added in Dauphin County and two more in Northumberland County, bringing Dauphin’s total to 180 cases with two deaths and Schuylkill up to 149 cases with one death and Northumberland County at 24 confirmed cases.
The biggest jump once again occurred in Philadelphia County, which reported 573 new cases, bringing their total to 5,029 in the county since the outbreak began.
“Now more than ever, as we continue to see COVID-19 cases and deaths rise in Pennsylvania, we need Pennsylvanians to take action,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “Those actions should be to stay calm, stay home and stay safe. If you must go out, please limit it to as few trips as possible and wear a mask to protect not only yourself, but other people as well. We need all Pennsylvanians to heed these efforts to protect our vulnerable Pennsylvanians, and also our healthcare workers and front line responders.”
With commercial labs being the primary testing option for most Pennsylvanians, data is not available on the total number of tests pending.
The state also updated numbers of age ranges of the positive cases and hospitalizations to date.
The breakdown is as follows:
Ages 0-4, <1%; 5-12, <1%; 13-18, 1%; 19-24, 7%; 25-49, 41%; 50-64, 29%, 65+, 20%
Ages 0-4, <1%; 5-12, <1%; 13-18, <1%; 19-24, 1%; 25-49, 19%; 50-64, 29%; 65+, 51%
The counties affected and the number of confirmed cases, with the number of deaths in parentheses, are:
Adams-38, Allegheny-759 (10), Armstrong-20, Beaver-129 (13), Bedford-4, Berks-616 (8), Blair-6, Bradford-15, Bucks-871 (23), Butler-113 (2), Cambria-10 (1), Cameron-1 Carbon-83 (2), Centre-59, Chester-425 (7), Clarion-8, Clearfield-7, Clinton-4, Columbia-65 (2), Crawford-13, Cumberland-88 (2), Dauphin-180 (2), Delaware-1,222 (26), Elk-2, Erie-32, Fayette-45, Forest-5, Franklin-52, Fulton-1, Greene-21, Huntingdon-8, Indiana-21, Jefferson-1, Juniata-23, Lackawanna-312 (16), Lancaster-596 (17), Lawrence-37 (2), Lebanon-187, Lehigh-1,466 (13), Luzerne-1,241 (12), Lycoming-17, McKean-1, Mercer-30, Mifflin-10, Monroe-716 (19), Montgomery-1,693 (37), Montour-25, Northampton-949 (20), Northumberland-24, Perry-15 (1), Philadelphia-5,029 (86), Pike-163 (6), Potter-3, Schuylkill-149 (1), Snyder-9 (1), Somerset-7, Sullivan-1, Susquehanna-16, Tioga-10, Union-11, Venango-5, Warren-1, Washington-63, Wayne-49, Westmoreland-190 (1), Wyoming-7, York-250 (2).
As of noon April 8, there have been 87,374 negative tests for the coronavirus, an increase of 5,580 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,, 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 8, the U.S. Center for Disease Control reports there have been 427,460 cases of the Coronavirus reported in the U.S. with 14,696 deaths. Johns Hopkins University of Medicine reports on their Coronavirus Tracker website that 24,245 U.S. residents that have contracted the virus have recovered.
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.