HARRISBURG, Pa. — Governor Tom Wolf's administration on Friday reminded Pennsylvanians to avoid large gatherings and wear masks around other people to help fight the spread of COVID-19 over Labor Day weekend.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health's guidance defines mass gatherings as those with 25 or more people indoors and 250 or more people outdoors, the administration said.
“COVID-19 knows no bounds – it doesn’t respect county or state lines and it certainly doesn’t take a holiday, so it is important that we remind our neighbors to stay safe over the long weekend as COVID-19 remains a threat in our communities,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “Pennsylvanians should refrain from attending large gatherings, and if you do go out and interact with others, social distance, wash your hands frequently and wear a mask.
"Remember: My mask protects you, and your mask protects me and by wearing a mask it shows that you care about others, and that you are committed to protecting the lives of those around you.”
An increasing number of COVID-19 cases across the state reported that they attended a gathering when completing their initial case investigation to determine where they went and who they came in contact with while they were infectious, Levine's department said.
Of the 4,536 confirmed cases reported between August 16 and August 22, Levine said, 47 percent or 2,114 individuals answered the question as to whether they attended a mass gathering or other large event. Of the 47 percent, nearly 13 percent or 272 individuals answered "yes" to whether they attended a mass gathering or other large event 14 days prior to onset of symptoms, according to Levine.
The numbers above highlight business settings and mass gatherings as possible sites for transmission, Levine said. With less than half of those asked about what types of businesses they visited or if they attended a mass gathering responding to the question, the department is reminding Pennsylvanians that it is essential that people answer the phone when case investigators call and to provide full and complete information to these clinical professionals.
If you do gather with a small group of close friends or family, Levine said, it is important to take precautions to keep everyone safe from COVID-19. If you plan to host a small gathering or barbeque, please follow the following recommendations to protect you and your guests:
- Greet guests by a smile and/or wave, do not hug or shake hands;
- Encourage guests to bring their masks, or have masks to provide for those who forgot;
- Clean and disinfect touched surfaces frequently;
- Keep tables and chairs spread out in order to allow for proper social distancing;
- Wash hands before eating or handling food; and
- Assign individuals to prepare or serve food to avoid further spread of germs.
If you have traveled, or plan to travel, to an area where there are high amounts of COVID-19 cases, it is recommended that you stay at home for 14 days upon return to Pennsylvania, Levine said.
For the most up-to-date list of states please visit the Department of Health’s website to find COVID-19 information for travelers.
Pennsylvanians are encouraged to continue to practice social distancing and other preventive measures, including washing your hands frequently, covering coughs and sneezes, cleaning surfaces often, wearing a mask and staying home if you are sick to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.
The Wolf Administration stresses the role Pennsylvanians play in helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19:
- 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, you are required to wear a mask when in a business or where it is difficult to maintain proper social distancing.
Source: Pennsylvania Department of Health