Pennsylvania Health Sec. Rachel Levine issued an order Wednesday requiring residents to wear masks, with exceptions, when leaving their homes as COVID-19 cases are on the rise, especially in Allegheny County.
The order requires mask wearing indoors where the public is generally invited, including workplaces, the order states.
“This mask-wearing order is essential to stopping the recent increase in COVID-19 cases we have seen in Pennsylvania,” Gov. Tom Wolf said. “Those hot spots can be traced to situations where Pennsylvanians were not wearing masks or practicing social distancing – two practices that must be adhered to if we want to maintain the freedoms we have in place under our reopening.”
The order followed Allegheny County setting another record-high number of new COVID-19 cases for one day Wednesday in a rise partly blamed on young adults crowding bars, as well as travel.
The county’s health department announced 110 new cases of the virus, surpassing Tuesday’s record-setting increase by one patient with the disease.
“Allegheny County ended January with some of the worst numbers in the state,” said Debra Bogen, director of the county’s health department.
Bogen said new hospitalizations involving COVID-19 patients have begun to creep up.
“This worries me,” she said.
She said four new cases involved people who attended protests, two of whom also visited bars.
There are 40 bars or nightclubs linked to the new cases, 15 of which had patrons and employees not wearing masks. Employees at a dozen different bars have also tested positive.
“Bar and travel are national concerns,” Bogen said.
She said she urged those who return to the area to self-quarantine for 14 day.
Washington County’s cases also continued to climb Wednesday by 11 new cases, taking the total to 230. Greene County remained at 41 cases since the counting began in March.
The order from Levine took place immediately Wednesday afternoon and remains in place until further notice.