TIMELINE: Pennsylvania coronavirus updates March 23

Gov. Wolf issues stay-at-home order in certain counties to help stop the spread of coronavirus

PITTSBURGH — Pennsylvania has now seen more than 470 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus. To help limit the spread of the virus, enforcement will begin Monday for Gov. Tom Wolf’s order to close all non-life-sustaining businesses. Keep checking back for the latest COVID-19 updates throughout the day.

Have questions about the spread of the coronavirus? We have an entire section dedicated to coverage of the outbreak. CLICK HERE for more.

UPDATE 10:05 p.m.: Pennsylvania State Police have responded to rumors that are circulating claiming that troopers are conducting “COVID-19 checkpoints.”

According to a tweet from Troop A, these coronavirus stops are not happening, and patrols remain the same as they were before the pandemic.

UPDATE 7:35 p.m.: Pittsburgh schools will remain closed through at least April 14, the district announced Monday afternoon.

The decision was made after Gov. Wolf extended the statewide order to close schools through April 6. This date would have been the start of Pittsburgh’s spring break.

“We have been actively working to develop a continuity of education plan for all of our students as we prepare for the potential longtime closure of schools,” said Superintendent Anthony Hamlet, Ed.D. “Tomorrow, we will launch a survey to understand the technology needs of our students and staff to ensure we are adequately prepared to continue learning and operations during the closure.”

Grab and Go meals will continue at 30 locations from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday and Friday next week. On Friday, April 3, students will receive a package of meals to carry them through Spring Break. Grab and Go locations will close with all schools for Spring Break April 6 – April 13.

UPDATE 7:21 p.m.: Sheetz has announced that it is suspending self-serve coffee and beverage sales. Also, bakery items that are normally self-serve will not be available.

“Sheetz is doing everything we can to prioritize the health and well-being of our team members, customers and the communities we serve as the situation around COVID-19 continues to evolve, ” said Travis Sheetz, President & COO of Sheetz, Inc. “These changes are in the best interest of our customers and employees as we remain a vital resource for our communities.”


UPDATE 5:30 p.m.: The White House Coronavirus Task Force is set to hold a news conference shortly. Watch LIVE on 11 News or click here to watch the stream on our website.

UPDATE 5:21 p.m.: Pennyslvania voters will have to wait to weigh-in on the upcoming Presidential election. Lawmakers confirmed to Channel 11 an agreement is in place to move the state’s primary from April 28 to June 2 due to the coronavirus.

“Counties have been asking for a postponement. It’s tough to train poll workers who are reluctant to come in for training. This is a real issue,” Gov. Wolf said during a Monday afternoon news conference.

It’s just one of several issues facing election officials.

Pennsylvania primary will be delayed by weeks due to coronavirus

UPDATE 5:05 p.m.: “It would be virtually impossible for us to enforce that. We would just hope people would do the right thing and follow the direction of staying at home and going out if absolutely necessary,” said Chief John Sicilia with the Northern Regional Police.

He said issuing a citation is the last thing police want to do, but people can face up to a $50 citation. And that could cost even more once court costs are added.

UPDATE 5:02 p.m.: In response to the coronavirus outbreak, officials with Washington Health System announced changes to the visitation policy at facilities.

The changes include Washington Hospital and Green Hospital being closed to all visitors. One healthy visitor will be allowed in the following situations:

· Patients under the age of 18

· Patients with a significant cognitive or physical disability or other impairment

  • CARE Center for Family Birth and Women’s Health Unit (Labor and Delivery plus Post-partum Recovery only) – Individual should be prepared to remain in the patient room for the duration of the visit.
  • Emergency Department – One person may accompany patient to the registration area and then must exit the building until they are called to assist the patient home. Minor patients or those with a significant cognitive or physical disability or impairment in the ED will be allowed one healthy adult visitor.
  • Surgical Services or Invasive Procedural Units – One adult will be permitted to stay during procedure and visit immediately afterward in the patient room if the patient is admitted.

Special considerations may be granted for end of life care.

UPDATE 4:59 p.m.: A student at Butler County Community College has tested positive for the coronavirus, according to Butler Radio.

Butler Radio reports the student attended the main campus in Butler Township and was last at the school on March 9th. The college alerted students who attended classes with with that student as well as faculty who taught those classes.

UPDATE 4:45 p.m.: Giant Eagle announced a number of new changes to stores due to the coronavirus. The changes include installing plexiglass dividers at registers and on longer allowing reusable bags.

UPDATE 4:36 p.m.: We’re continuing to get more information in about what Gov. Wolf’s stay at home order means for you. The order will allow people to perform any of the following activities:

  • Tasks essential to maintain health and safety, or the health and safety of their family or household members (including pets), such as obtaining medicine or medical supplies, visiting a health care professional, or obtaining supplies they need to work from home
  • Getting necessary services or supplies for themselves, for their family or household members, or as part of volunteer efforts, or to deliver those services or supplies to others to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences
  • Engaging in outdoor activity, such as walking, hiking or running if they maintain social distancing
  • To perform work providing essential products and services at a life-sustaining business
  • To care for a family member or pet in another household
  • Any travel related to the provision of or access to the above-mentioned individual activities or life-sustaining business activities
  • Travel to care for elderly, minors, dependents, persons with disabilities, or other vulnerable persons
  • Travel to or from educational institutions for purposes of receiving materials for distance learning, for receiving meals, and any other related services
  • Travel to return to a place of residence from an outside jurisdiction
  • Travel required by law enforcement or court order.
  • Travel required for non-residents to return to their place of residence outside the commonwealth

The following operations are exempt:

  • Life-sustaining business activities
  • Health care or medical services providers
  • Access to life-sustaining services for low-income residents, including food banks
  • Access to child care services for employees of life-sustaining businesses that remain open as follows: child care facilities operating under the Department of Human Services, Office of Child Development and Early Learning waiver process; group and family child care operating in a residence; and part-day school age programs operating under an exemption from the March 19, 2020 business closure Orders.
  • News media
  • Law enforcement
  • The federal government
  • Religious institutions

UPDATE 3:32 p.m.: Pittsburgh Police Officers who responded to a car crash in Market Square around noon are being asked to self isolate.

According to Public Information Officer Chris Togneri, one of the drivers appeared to have symptoms similar to COVID-19 and was transported to the hospital for testing.

The number of officers who responded and are now in self-isolation has not been released.

UPDATE 3:32 p.m.: The Port Authority is now reducing bus and light rail service by about 25 percent because of a drop in ridership over the past week.

According to a release, this balances the need for essential trips for hospital employees and other essential workers while also taking into account guidance from local government leaders.

“Our region is speaking with one voice: If you don’t need to go out, please stay home,” said Port Authority CEO Katharine Kelleman.

Reducing the number of trips will also mean fewer buses in service, and the Port Authority said this will help it keep up with the cleaning schedule currently in place.

UPDATE 2:49 p.m.: The Pittsburgh Department of Parks & Recreation announced all city playgrounds are now shut down because of Gov. Wolf’s stay-at-home order.

Additionally, officials with Allegheny County said the stay at home order does not change anything in terms of what are considered life-sustaining businesses and waivers that have been put in place. Also there are no changes to the orders for restaurants to limit their operations to take-out and delivery.

UPDATE 2:30 p.m.: The PA Department of Health announced there are now six deaths statewide due to the coronavirus.

UPDATE 2:04 p.m.: Slippery Rock University officials announced spring commencement ceremonies have been postponed indefinitely. There will be an in-person celebration later in the year, pending the coronavirus outbreak.

Additionally, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice announced a statewide stay-at-home order due to the outbreak.

UPDATE 2:00 p.m.: State health leaders and Gov. Wolf provided an update as the outbreak continues across Pennsylvania.

Allegheny County along with several counties near Philadelphia are under the stay-at-home order. Gov. Wolf said the order will last for 2 weeks and there will be an announcement of what activities will be permitted under the order.

The order goes into effect at 8 p.m. tonight for Allegheny County. There is no curfew, according to Gov. Wolf. You’re asked to stay home indefinitely. This was not put in place for the entire state, Gov. Wolf said, because he does not want to over react. The order is only for the hardest hit areas of the outbreak.

School closures will continue for an additional two weeks as well, pushing the potential school start back to the second week of April.

UPDATE 1:50 p.m.: Butler Memorial Hospital announced they have a patient at the facility who is being treated for COVID-19. The patient is in isolation, according to hospital officials. There are 5 positive cases in Butler County, according to state health officials.

UPDATE 12:32 p.m.: An official with the state legislature confirmed to Channel 11 that the Pennsylvania Primary will be moving from April to June due to the coronavirus.

Mail-in ballots are available to voters.

UPDATE 12:13 p.m.: State health officials announced there are an additional 165 new cases of coronavirus across Pennsylvania. This brings the statewide total to 644 cases in 34 counties.

So far, 6,595 people have tested negative and there have been 3 deaths, including a person in Allegheny County.

Here is the local breakdown:

  • Allegheny County: 48 cases, 1 death
  • Westmoreland County: 6 cases
  • Beaver County: 3 cases
  • Butler County: 5 cases
  • Fayette County: 1 case
  • Mercer County: 1 case

Additionally, Carlow University announced it is postponing face-to-face commencement ceremonies due to the outbreak.

UPDATE 12:09 p.m.: PA State Rep. Jason Ortitay posted on his social media that there will be a stay-at-home order issued for Allegheny County going into effect at 8 p.m. tonight.

State rep. Mike Puskaric also posted the message to his Facebook page.

Additionally, Speaker Mike Turzai posted the same message to his social media account, but that his since been taken down.

UPDATE 12:04 p.m.: Officials with Carnegie-Mellon University announced live, in-person commencement activities scheduled for May 17 have been cancelled. Instead, the university will offer a virtual way to confer degrees on graduating students. Additionally, university officials said they are also exploring ways to celebrate the event in the fall.

UPDATE (12 p.m.): As the coronavirus pandemic continues to hurt families financially, the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank is stepping in to help, giving away hundreds of meals to those in need Monday morning.

Boxes of frozen foods and dry foods were handed out to hundreds of people in the parking lot of Kennywood Park.

Each recipient was asked to put their trunk up so workers could load a box of frozen food and dry food while avoiding physical contact.

More food will be handed out from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday.

Long line of people at Food Bank giveaway at Kennywood

UPDATE (11:02 a.m.): Eight more cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed in Allegheny County, bringing the total to 48, the Allegheny County Health Department said. Six people are hospitalized.

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UPDATE (10:40 a.m.): All school districts in Beaver County have extended their closures until April 13.

“We are anticipating the Governor will close schools across the Commonwealth for an extended period of time. Given this eventuality, the Beaver County Superintendents, CTC Director, and BVIU Executive Director are announcing today that all Beaver County school facilities will be closed and all events will be canceled through Monday, April 13,” a letter to families said.

UPDATE (10:25 a.m.): The closure of all facilities at state parks and forests in Pennsylvania has been extended until April 30, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources announced.

People can still access trails, lakes, forests, roads and parking areas for hiking and other “passive and dispersed recreation,” officials said.

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“During the past week we’ve seen many people hiking trails and heading to the outdoors as a way to get exercise and relieve stress,” DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said. “We remind everyone that it’s OK to go outside, but we should still be practicing social distancing to do our part to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

Officials said visitors can help keep state parks and forest lands safe and clean by following these practices:

  • Avoid crowded parking lots and trailheads
  • Use the bathroom before you visit
  • Bring a bag and carry out your trash
  • Clean up after pets
  • Avoid activities that put you at greater risk of injury, as there is limited staff to assist

To help avoid exposure to COVID-19 and still enjoy the outdoors:

  • Don’t hike or recreate in groups – go with those under the same roof, and adhere to social distancing (stay 6 feet apart)
  • Take hand sanitizer with you and use it regularly
  • Avoid touching your face, eyes and nose
  • Cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with a tissue or flexed elbow
  • If you are sick, stay home

DCNR facilities that are closed include:

  • Park and forest offices and visitor centers
  • Restrooms
  • Campgrounds, cabins and all forms of overnight accommodations
  • All reservable facilities
  • Public programs, events and trainings are canceled through April 30

Anyone who had reservations for campgrounds, cabins and overnight accommodations during this time period will be contacted and given a full refund, according to a news release.

UPDATE (8:40 a.m.): CVS Health is giving bonuses to employees who are required to be at CVS facilities during the coronavirus outbreak.

“Bonuses will range from $150 to $500 and will be awarded to pharmacists and certain other health care professionals on the frontlines, store associates and managers, and other site-based hourly employees,” a news release said.

In addition to the bonuses, CVS Health is working to immediately fill 50,000 full-time, part-time and temporary roles.

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UPDATE (8:25 a.m.): Helping to make sure people don’t go hungry during a time of uncertainty with the coronavirus, 10,000 sandwiches will be passed out at Oakmont Bakery this week.

The Chaffin Luhana Foundation is spearheading the effort, teaming up with the bakery and a small army of volunteers.

Starting Monday, workers will have a drive-through system set up outside the bakery for curbside pickup, avoiding hand-to-hand contact.

10,000 sandwiches to be handed out at Oakmont Bakery

UPDATE (4:30 a.m.): Starting at 8 a.m., Pennsylvania State Police, local officials, the state Health and Agriculture departments and the Liquor Control Board will start enforcing the closure of all non-life-sustaining businesses.

Gov. Tom Wolf said he would continue to evaluate the situation and hopefully lighten up on the restrictions when there is a decline in cases of the coronavirus.

Businesses that fail to comply risk citations, fines, license suspensions and possible jail time.

State police ask that anyone who would like to report a business for not closing contact a police department directly and not call 911.

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Pittsburgh police said the department will still respond to 911 calls and other complaints if businesses do not comply with the order. Officers will investigate and, if necessary, generate a report for businesses that are reported. Those reports will then be followed up on.

In a statement, the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police said:

"We are confident that this will not be an issue. The Pittsburgh business community wants to do what’s right for the greater safety of the community and we believe they will follow the guidelines and mandates. We understand that this is a difficult time for business owners, and we do not want anyone to be cited for non-compliance.
“We are all in this together. We thank everyone for their understanding.”
First person dies from coronavirus in Allegheny County; 371 cases statewide