HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- All Pennsylvania residents must stay home as much as possible to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Tom Wolf said as he dramatically expanded the footprint of the quarantine to include the entire state.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health confirmed 1,211 additional positive cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, April 3 bringing the statewide total to 7,016.
The department also reported 16 new deaths among positive cases, bringing the statewide total to 90.
Dr. Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania's Secretary of Health, said 730 of the positive cases are hospitalized, 216 of those required ICU, and 130 needed ventilators. She said 345 of the positive cases are health care workers.
Wolf added 34 counties to his existing stay-at-home order, meaning that residents of all 67 of Pennsylvania's counties are now asked to stay put unless they have a legitimate reason to go out.
Philadelphia and the surrounding suburban counties were already under that stay at home order.
With coronavirus infections continuing to rise dramatically in the state - nearly 1,000 new confirmed cases were reported Wednesday - Wolf called a statewide quarantine "the most prudent option."
"Some of you might think that a month is too long to go without seeing your friends and your family. But if we don't do everything we can to slow the spread of COVID-19, there are some people who you will never see again," he said.
The expanded order will take effect at 8 p.m. Wednesday and last through at least April 30.
Residents may leave their homes for several reasons that include working at a business that's still open, going to the grocery store or pharmacy, visiting a doctor, caring for a relative or heading outside to exercise. Police will continue to focus on informing residents of the order rather than on enforcement, according to the governor's office.
Separately, schools and nonessential businesses are closed until further notice.
Meanwhile, as the focus remains on flattening the curve, the 6abc Data Journalism Team has been tracking the curve on a county-by-county basis in Pennsylvania.
The data offers reason to believe that as the number of cases continues to spike in Philadelphia, confirmed cases in surrounding counties, at least, appear to be leveling off.
Also on Wednesday, Bucks County officials heralded the arrival of thousands and thousands of that much sought-after personal protective equipment.
That includes N-95 masks, face shields, gloves and other needed items that will now be distributed to emergency personnel on the front-lines of the fight against the pandemic.
Scott Forster, Bucks County's Director of Emergency Services, admits that the tough part is stretching that distribution as far as possible.
"Based on the size of the organization, and how many patients they may see, and their needs, we distribute the supply based on those things," Forster said.
The other big announcement from the state is the Liquor Control Board's decision to resume sales on a limited basis.
By limited the board means they will only resume e-commerce sales with a six-bottle per transaction limit.
STATE POLICE REDUCE CONTACT
Pennsylvania State Police will no longer respond in person to some types of calls as the agency tries to limit troopers' contact with the public and slow the spread of the coronavirus, officials announced.
Calls for lost and found, littering, identity theft and general requests to speak to a trooper are among the types of calls that will now be resolved with "limited or no-scene response," state police said in a news release.
The new policy took effect Wednesday and will be in place until further notice.
State police said troopers will continue to respond to emergencies.
State Police Commissioner Col. Robert Evanchick said the new policy only applies to a "limited number of call types" and that police will continue responding to critical calls.
State police barracks remain open to the public, though the agency has asked that residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 or are displaying symptoms to stay away and call instead. Others should be mindful of social distancing guidelines, the agency said.
For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up in a couple of weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems are at higher risk of more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.
The Allegheny County jail said it released more than 600 inmates in an effort to reduce the spread of the virus.
From March 16 through Tuesday afternoon, the jail released 622 inmates, part of a collaboration with judges, prosecutors and others in the court system to thin the population, according to Allegheny County spokeswoman Amie Downs. The effort has resulted in a 25% decline in the jail's inmate count, to more than 1,800.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania cited Allegheny County as a model in asking the state Supreme Court to order the release of some inmates from county jails statewide.
The ACLU said in a petition this week that tight inmate quarters, a lack of sanitation, and a limited ability to treat and quarantine people suspected of having COVID-19 presents an "extraordinary public health risk" to inmates, staff and surrounding communities.
In response, the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association said prosecutors and local courts are already "taking measured, individualized approaches" to COVID-19 and jail populations.