Montour County has one COVID case, two deaths in PA

UPDATE: Dr. Rachel Levine said there are now two deaths associated with the coronavirus.  An adult in Allegheny County is the second adult death in Penna.

Additionally, for the first time, a Valley county has a positive case of coronavirus. Montour County is listed as having one case. Geisinger had already announced they had three positive cases in the entire Geisinger system, but they did not say where. Now, one positive case is attributed to Montour County. The PA department of health will only say that the individual is from Montour County and is in isolation.

Harrisburg, PA- The Pennsylvania Department of Health today confirmed as of 12:00 a.m., March 21, that there are 103 additional positive cases of COVID-19 and one additional death in Allegheny County, bringing the statewide total to 371 in 28 counties. County-specific information and a statewide map are available here. All people are either in isolation at home or being treated at the hospital.

“Our notable increase in cases over the last few days indicate we need everyone to take COVID-19 seriously,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “Pennsylvanians have a very important job right now: stay calm, stay home and stay safe. We have seen case counts continue to increase and the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to stay home.”

Statewide, there are 371 cases of COVID-19 reported from commercial, hospital and state labs. There are 3,766 patients who have tested negative, and two total deaths. With commercial labs being the primary testing option for most Pennsylvanians, data is not available on the total number of tests pending.

From Associated Press:

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania’s coronavirus death toll rose by one on Saturday as lawyers for Gov. Tom Wolf asked a court to dismiss lawsuits challenging his authority to shutter “non-life-sustaining” businesses, declaring that unprecedented action is needed to combat a global pandemic they called “perhaps the biggest catastrophe of our lifetimes.”

The Allegheny County Health Department confirmed the death Saturday but did not release details, other than to say the victim was an adult who had been hospitalized. Nearly 270 coronavirus cases and two deaths have been reported in Pennsylvania.

In a legal filing late Friday, the state attorney general’s office said Wolf is empowered by the state’s Emergency Management Services Code to shutter businesses and restrict people’s movements in a disaster.

“COVID-19 presents an extraordinary challenge that requires extraordinary measures to combat. The governor was empowered by law to combat precisely this challenge,” the filing said.

The state Supreme Court did not immediately rule on lawsuits challenging aspects of Wolf’s authority to shut down gun shops and law firms.

Wolf has justified his edict that tens of thousands of businesses shutter their doors indefinitely by citing big, daily upticks in the number of coronavirus cases that health officials say threaten to overwhelm hospitals and spike the death toll.

Under pressure from Republicans and business groups, Wolf agreed to delay enforcement of the shutdown order until Monday. His administration also agreed to exempt additional businesses from the shutdown, including the timber industry, coal mines, hotels, accountants and laundromats.

A Harrisburg-area law firm challenged the governor’s power to shutter law offices, declaring Wolf had no right to meddle in the judicial branch. In a second suit, also filed Friday, a gun shop said Wolf’s edict violated the Second Amendment right to bear arms and other constitutional rights.

Wolf’s lawyers said that nothing in his order prevents an attorney from practicing law or a citizen from owning a gun.

“Petitioners’ argument that the global COVID-19 pandemic is somehow not a disaster demonstrates a dangerous level of myopathy about the effect this pandemic could have on the citizens of the commonwealth and our health care system if the spread of this disease is not arrested,” the attorney general’s office wrote.

Wolf’s administration has steadfastly refused to confirm to The Associated Press whether gun shops are covered by his shutdown order. Its legal filing said the governor’s office used industry codes generated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to construct its list of businesses covered by the shutdown order.

“Any business would already know which sector it occupies and its corresponding NAICS code,” the filing said.

On Saturday, Joshua Prince, a lawyer challenging the governor’s edict, called the legal filing “merely another smoke and mirrors response by the commonwealth, as it is acutely aware that there is no NAICS code relative to the sale, manufacture or transfer of firearms and ammunition.”

He said the coding issue arises frequently for federal firearms licensees when they attempt to procure financing, “as there is no applicable code.”

Wolf’s legal team also said that voluntary requests for Pennsylvanians to stay away from one another and for businesses to close their doors and have employees work from home proved ineffective at slowing the spread of the disease, requiring more drastic action.

“Pennsylvanians refused to voluntarily engage in ‘social distancing’ to prevent the spread of COVID-19, leaving Governor Wolf with no option other than to close nonessential businesses to ‘lessen the curve’ of the disease,” the filing said.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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