1st COVAD-19 case in Chesco; county moves to emergency plans; Gov. closes state schools for 2 weeks

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times

Chester County Commissioners Chair Marian Moskowitz details the county’s emergency plans in wake of the COVAD-19 pandemic.

WEST CHESTER — In light of the emerging COVAD-19 crisis, state and county officials are moving quickly to ensure social distancing and put both the state and Chester County on an emergency footing, closing schools, severely limiting the operation of non-essential county government and advising residents to stay home.

County officials, during a press conference Friday afternoon, also announced the county’s first documented case of COVAD-19 (known more commonly as Coronavirus). County health officials identified the first patient as a 57-year-old woman, who is doing well and quarantined. She is thought to have had contact with an infected person from another state. Health officials are currently tracing her recent contacts and contacting those people.

Friday, Gov. Tom Wolf closed all state schools for the next two weeks.

“We understand that these are trying times and recognize the impact of the coronavirus on our students and communities,” Wolf said in a statement Friday. “First and foremost, my top priority as governor – and that of our education leaders – must be to ensure the health and safety of our students and school communities.

“As such, I am ordering that all schools in the commonwealth close for the next two weeks.”

Local school districts will not be penalized for failing to have 180 school days, the state Department of Education will work with local Intermediate Units to support continuity of learning plans. Also, eligible schools will be allowed to continue serving meals to low-income students via either drive-thru or grab and go.

On the county level, only essential services, such as 911, the County Prison, the Pocopson Home and Youth Center will remain at full operation and staffing. No visitors will be permitted at the prison, while visitors to The Pocopson Home will be screened for COVAD-19 symptoms. Similarly, visitors to the Youth Center will be screened.

The county’s parks and trails are closed, as are the Chester County Library in Exton and the Hankin Library.

Most county employees will be working from home for at least the next two weeks.

County Commissioners are asking residents to stay home — avoid movie theaters, gyms and retail stores — and only go out for activities such as shopping for food. In that case, people are advised to observe social distancing, keeping at least six feet away from other people.

The status of all of these moves will be reevaluated depending on the national and local status of the ongoing pandemic.

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