Another Grim Milestone: More Than 3,000 Pennsylvanians Have Died From Coronavirus

Medical professionals and their supporters wearing protective face masks as a precaution against the coronavirus demand safer working conditions and policies during a May Day protest near Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia, Friday, May 1, 2020. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

By Associated Press

May 5, 2020

The large number of new deaths reported Tuesday by the state Department of Health were spread out over the previous two weeks, the agency said, as it reconciles its figures with deaths being reported by local agencies or hospitals.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania reported another 554 deaths from the coronavirus to pass 3,000 total, while Gov. Tom Wolf said Tuesday that he is not committing to a particular schedule to lift stay-at-home pandemic restrictions in the state’s counties or regions.

The large number of new deaths reported Tuesday by the state Department of Health were spread out over the previous two weeks, the agency said, as it reconciles its figures with deaths being reported by local agencies or hospitals.

Still, it was as stark a figure as the state has reported since the first case of the new coronavirus was detected in Pennsylvania in early March. It comes as the growth in cases appears to slow down in many parts of Pennsylvania and Wolf’s administration moves to lighten its restrictions on movement and business activity.

With the economic fallout of the pandemic shutdown growing, Wolf maintained Tuesday that he would stick to a reopening process that relies on what he sees as indicators tied to safety.

Wolf also acknowledged that the state, as it begins allowing many businesses to reopen in 24 counties this Friday, will be unable to investigate or enforce every complaint about an employer not following his administration’s safety guidance to protect workers and customers.

On a conference call with reporters, Wolf acknowledged fielding complaints from lawmakers from various regions about lifting restrictions there sooner, or removing hard-hit nursing homes from regional case counts that factor in to whether he will lift restrictions.

However, Wolf otherwise said it is not realistic to ignore case counts in prisons and nursing homes, and he said that setting a schedule to reopen counties would be arbitrary.

“What we’re trying to do is keep people safe … and we’re going to be guided by that as we were guided in opening 24 counties last week,” Wolf said. “The next round, when it comes, is going to come when we feel it’s OK to open another series of counties.”

Wolf promised an announcement on Allegheny County and southwestern Pennsylvania “soon.” The county, with 1.2 million people, and its immediate area remain under the governor’s strictest orders, the so-called “red” designation.

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