Total COVID-19 cases in PA exceeds 100,000: a timeline of the virus in the commonwealth


(WTAJ) — The total number of positive COVID-19 cases in Pennsylvania has exceeded 100,000. The Pennsylvania Department of Health reported 763 new cases as of Saturday.

The following dates show when total cases hit other notable highs:

  • March 6: First two cases were reported.
  • March 25: Over 1,000 cases (1,127)
  • April 4: Over 10,000 cases (10,017)
  • April 14: Over 25,000 cases (25,345)
  • May 4: Over 50,000 cases (50,092)
  • June 6: Over 75,000 cases (75,086)

A look at key events in Pennsylvania will highlight how the state has changed in the past few months from the COVID-19 pandemic.

MARCH 6: First two positive cases emerge in PA. The first two cases of COVID-19 were identified in Delaware County and Wayne County.

MARCH 8: Four total cases in PA. Gov. Wolf announced two more cases of the virus. Both individuals were from Montgomery county and exposed to an area of the United States where the virus was present. All four cases up to this point were considered mild.

MARCH 13: Gov. Wolf orders schools to shut down for two weeks starting March 16. This announcement came shortly after closing schools in Montgomery County. At the time, there were 6 confirmed cases and 27 presumptive cases in Pennsylvania.

MARCH 16: Gov. Wolf extends shutdown advisory to the entire state. Wolf already called for nonessential government offices to close and nonessential business activity to end in four heavily populated southeast Pennsylvania counties. At this point in time, the immediate closure was NOT mandated, but it was strongly urged that nonessential businesses shut down. Essential businesses included grocery stores, banks, gas stations, big box stores, daycares, pharmacies, healthcare and hardware stores, or stores that sell a range of consumer goods.

MARCH 17: Gov. Wolf provides more clarification on what counts as an essential business. At this point, only three types of businesses were required to close until further notice: state liquor stores, state-licensed daycare centers, and bars, and dine-in restaurants. (Bars and dine-in restaurants could stay open only for takeout, delivery and drive-through services). The closing of recreational centers, gyms, casinos, etc. was suggested to close for 14 days.

MARCH 18: First COVID-19 death in Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Department of Health reported the first COVID-19 death from an adult in Northampton County.

MARCH 19: Wolf orders all non-life-sustaining businesses to close at 8 p.m. The previous businesses that were suggested to close are now forced to shut their doors at 8 p.m. Enforcement set to begin on the March 21 for businesses that don’t close and could result in fines, citations, or license suspensions. Private businesses or local organizations that didn’t comply could forfeit the ability to receive applicable disaster relief.

MARCH 20: The enforcement protocols for non-life sustaining businesses to shut down is extended to March 23 at 8 a.m. This resulted from a high amount of businesses requesting waivers for an extension.

MARCH 23: Schools in PA will remain closed for another two weeks until April 6 at the earliest. All Pennsylvania schools remain closed for another two weeks, with the earliest arrival date expected to be April 6.

MARCH 23: Six counties added to the new stay-at-home order. The stay-at-home order was announced for six counties starting at 8 p.m. Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Monroe, Philadelphia, and Montgomery counties were added to the list.

MARCH 24: Stay at home order now includes eight counties. Delaware and Erie counties were added to the stay-at-home order list.

MARCH 25: Wolf allows gun shops to reopen on a limited basis after being urged to do so by several Pennsylvania supreme court justices. Firearms dealers can sell by individual appointments during limited hours and with social distancing guidelines.

MARCH 26: Wolf announces $50 million in transferred state funding to purchase medical equipment to fight COVID-19. Gov. Wolf stressed the need for more beds, ventilators and PPE.

MARCH 28: Stay at home order extended to 22 counties. The newest additions to the list: Beaver, Berks, Butler, Centre, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lehigh, Luzerne, Northampton, Pike, Washington, Wayne, Westmoreland and York. The order was supposed to last until April 6. The Pennsylvania Department of Health provided guidelines for activities that were allowed under the order, including but not limited to getting necessary supplies, outdoor activity that maintains social distancing and travel to or from essential businesses.

MARCH 30: All stay at home orders pushed back from April 6 to April 30. Stay at home order now includes 26 counties. Carbon, Cumberland, Dauphin and Schuylkill counties were added to the list. All Pennsylvania schools were ordered to remain closed until further notice.

MARCH 31: Seven more counties added to stay at home order. At this point, 33 counties are now under the order. The latest counties added: Lebanon, Franklin, Somerset, Lawrence, Cameron, Crawford and Forest.

APRIL 1: All of Pennsylvania under stay-at-home order. Gov. Wolf provided a detailed list of what is considered essential travel and individual activities that could still be performed. Healthcare, news media, law enforcement, the federal government, religious institutions and other life-sustaining businesses were exempt.

APRIL 3: Pennsylvania residents advised to wear masks when leaving the house. The use of masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 begins in Pennsylvania. Gov. Wolf asked residents not to wear N95 and paper masks in order to reserve them for healthcare workers.

APRIL 9: PIAA cancels winter and spring sports for the 2019-2020 school year. High school athletics were halted in the middle of championships for winter sports and would not see a continuation. Spring sports had a stop placed to their season before it even began.

APRIL 9: All schools will remain closed for the remainder of the year, including colleges and universities. The Pennsylvania government urged schools to provide accommodations and a shift toward online learning. Under this change, schools no longer have to worry about the 180-day minimum for the school year.

APRIL 22: State reopening plan announced Gov. Wolf announces the introduction of his three-phase plan: red, yellow and green. Some counties in the northwestern and north-central area of the state are projected to be released from stay at home order May 8. A region must average fewer than 50 new positive cases per 100,000 residents to move out from under the statewide lock down.

APRIL 27: Golf courses and other outdoor businesses are allowed to reopen on May 1. Restrictions began to lift on outdoor activities as summer approached. Golf courses, marinas, guided fishing trips and privately owned campgrounds were able to reopen across the state. Campground in state parks would remain closed until May 14. Wearing a mask and social distancing were still strongly encouraged during these activities.

MAY 1: Several counties begin shift from red to yellow phase. Twenty-four counties were scheduled to move from red to yellow as of May 8. Large gatherings of more than 25 people were still strictly prohibited and teleworking was to continue where feasible. At this point, non-life sustaining businesses were beginning to open in limited capacities.

MAY 8: Stay at home order for counties in red phase extended until June 4. The order was previously scheduled to expire on May 7.

MAY 12: Counties threaten to open despite not being moved to yellow phase, Gov. Wolf said they were acting in a cowardly way and that operating illegally would put everyone at risk. He also threatened to withhold state funding from counties disobeying orders.

MAY 13: A man in Westmoreland County is arrested for allegedly threatening Gov. Wolf. Rocco Naples was arrested for allegedly saying that he and his friends have a “bullet waiting” for the governor if businesses don’t open.

MAY 19: Wolf vetoes three bills to give counties power to open on their own. Senate Bill 327 would have authorized counties to develop and implement their own mitigation plans, including allowing individual counties to decide when businesses within their jurisdiction were allowed to reopen. House Bills 2388 and 2412 would have allowed various industries to reopen despite still being in the red phase. Gov. Wolf vetoed all three of these bills, saying that the decision to move the counties from red to yellow phase were based on the advice of expert epidemiologists.

MAY 20: Pennsylvanians that don’t have health insurance can get tested for COVID for free. Gov. Wolf announced that federal stimulus funding would be used to reimburse providers that tested uninsured patients. Testing was also increased in minority communities.

MAY 22: Seventeen counties move to green phase on May 29. Eight counties were scheduled to move to yellow phase on May 29 as well.

MAY 27: Wolf elaborates on green phase guidelines. Maximum four customers with a common relationship may sit together at a bar. Standing in a bar area was not permitted.

JUNE 4: Stay at home order expires for counties still in the red phase. All counties now in yellow or green phase. The emergency disaster declaration is renewed that was set to expire on June 4.

JUNE 10: Guidelines are updated on outdoor recreation activities that may be offered during green and yellow phases. Most state park swimming pools reopening June 13. All state park beaches open for swimming as of June 6.

JUNE 16: House resolution 915 calls for Wolf’s impeachment. State Representative Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler) and 24 co-sponsors called for Gov. Wolf’s impeachment on the grounds of his misbehavior in office.

JUNE 19: Twelve more counties set to move to green phase on June 26. Lebanon county is the only county that isn’t slated to move to the green phase.

JUNE 28: Allegheny county bans on-site consumption of alcohol as cases begin to surge. For the first time since cases were confirmed in the state, Allegheny County was leading the state in the number of new cases.

JULY 1: Facemasks must be used in all public places. An order signed by Dr. Rachel Levine made masks a requirement whenever anyone leaves their home. This includes when individuals are outdoors and cannot maintain a six-foot distance from others.

JULY 2: Wolf recommends urges 14 day quarantine if PA residents visit specific states with high surges. As new “hot spots” begin to form in other states, a 14 day quarantine was urged for anyone traveling to and returning from the following states:

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • Nevada
  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah

JULY 2: A Penn State student residing in State College dies from COVID-19 complications. The student was tested for the virus on June 20 and died at home in Allentown.

JULY 3: All PA counties enter the green phase. Lebanon County was the last county in the state to enter the green phase.

JULY 6: COVID begins to cause a nationwide coin shortage. Businesses begin to only accept payments with a credit or debit card as shutdowns from COVID-19 resulted in a coin shortage.

JULY 7: International students risk losing their visas if their colleges and universities do not offer in-person classes. This is later rescinded by President Trump.

JULY 8: President Trump threatens to cut federal funding if schools don’t reopen. Trump said that Democrats want to keep schools closed because it is an election and not because of any coronavirus related risks.

JULY 10: Four more states are added to the return quarantine list. Delaware, Iowa, Kansas and Oklahoma make the list for Pennsylvanians to quarantine for 14 days if they travel there as cases continue to surge.

JULY 14: Wolf vetoes a house resolution that called for an end to the COVID-19 disaster declaration.

JULY 15: Wolf imposes restrictions on bars and restaurants. Bars will close unless they offer dine-in meals and restaurants will be at a 25% capacity. Alcohol may only be served on-site with a meal. Indoor events and gatherings of more than 25 people are prohibited, with the exception of places of worship.

JULY 15: Walmart and Sam’s Club announces that all locations will require all customers to wear masks starting July 20.

JULY 15: Hospital data for COVID-19 will be sent to the Trump administration before going to the CDC. The CDC database is available to the public, while the new database is private.

JULY 16: Wolf yanks virus funding from Lebanon County after they defied shutdown orders.

JULY 16: DOH and DOE announce that it is up to each school to determine if they should resume in-person classes. Updated guidelines on what schools must do in order to have in-person sessions.

JULY 16: All Target and CVS locations will require customers to wear masks in their stores. The large retail chains join Walmart in enforcing facial coverings for all customers.

To get a look at our 10 County viewing area numbers, click here.

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