Secretary of Health announces targeted efforts to control the spread of COVID-19

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HARRISBURG, DAUPHIN COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — The Pennsylvania Department of Health announced new restrictions in a briefing on Tuesday as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania.

“It would not be the best thing, it would not be ideal for us, but we completely understand. We’ll do what is right to keep everyone safe,” Crystal Wright, fitness director at Odessy Fitness.

Eyewitness News spoke with Wright about the possibility of gyms having to close in the near future. Fortunately for her, they news restrictions do not include gyms having to shut down.

“We’d understand. I mean, really, it’s all about, we have to do what is best for our staff, our members, our Odessy family really. Keeping everybody safe is what’s most important,” Wright said.

Gyms may not need to close in our area, but everyone will need to start wearing a mask when working out, as Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine strengthened the mask order.

“When indoors, masks will now be required anytime you are with people outside of your household, even if you are socially distanced, 6-feet apart,” said Dr. Levine.

She says this means every indoor facility, including schools, gyms, public transportation, and restaurants. She went as far as mandating that you must wear a mask in your own home when having visitors.

“We must all be diligent in wearing masks all the time,” Dr. Levine said.

New travel restrictions will also become effective Friday, November 20. Anyone who visits the state is required to be tested for COVID-19 within 72 hours of arrival and self-quarantine until a negative test is received. Pennsylvanians who travel out of state must also receive a COVID-19 test, and isolate until a negative test is received.

“These travel measures are intended for people to not travel and stay within their states and households,” Dr. Levine said.

The state is asking to upgrade testing for all colleges and universities in the commonwealth. This includes testing the student body after returning to campus after breaks and routine testing for all students at the beginning of each term. The state also recommends regular screening throughout terms.

As for healthcare facilities, Dr. Levine is asking hospitals to prepare for a surge in hospitalizations. The state is asking those facilities to move up and reduce elective procedures to create room for the potential surge.

Dr. Levine said the state has no intentions to return to the phased reopening red, yellow, green county map.

“We must remain united in stopping COVID-19,” Dr. Levine said. “Wear a mask, wash your hands, stay apart and download the COVID Alert PA app. If you test positive, please answer the call of the case reviewer and provide information that can help protect others. It’s the selfless, right thing to do.”

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