Local preparations for the coronavirus continued Tuesday with a litany of further declarations and closings.
Child care centers in Pennsylvania were ordered to shut down yesterday, although those serving families of first responders or medical personnel are able to remain open through a waiver process. The move came as the Wolf administration tried to further define the essential/non-essential distinction that has confused some members of the public.
In a statement Tuesday, the Wolf administration said that essential services and sectors include but are not limited to food processing, agriculture, industrial manufacturing, feed mills, construction, trash collection, grocery and household goods (including convenience stores), home repair/hardware and auto repair, pharmacy and other medical facilities, biomedical and healthcare, post offices and shipping outlets, insurance, banks, gas stations, laundromats, veterinary clinics and pet stores, warehousing, storage, and distribution, public transportation, and hotel and commercial lodging.
The Wolf administration said that non-essential businesses include public-facing industries such as entertainment, hospitality, and recreation facilities, including but not limited to community and recreation centers; gyms, including yoga, barre and spin facilities; hair salons and barber shops, nail salons and spas; casinos; concert venues; theaters; sporting event venues and golf courses; retail facilities, including shopping malls except for pharmacy or other health care facilities within retail operations.
According to the governor’s administration, it is “relying on businesses to act now before the governor or the Secretary of Health finds it necessary to compel closures under the law for the interest of public health, including section 7301 of the Emergency Management Services Code.”
Read More from the Inquirer: Gov. Tom Wolf claims expansive powers as coronavirus crisis deepens
State Sen. Dave Arnold (R-48) responded to Wolf’s order in a statement on Tuesday. “I commend the Governor and his team of health experts for their around-the-clock updates on the status of COVID-19,” said Sen. Arnold. “That being said, I do have some concerns with his March 16th, 2020 press event in which he ‘ordered’ non-essential businesses to close their doors.”
“As it stands now, the governor does not have the authority to shutter all business in the Commonwealth. While I certainly support individuals staying home and out of public places as much as possible, this is simply not a reality for some.”
Arnold said individuals with questions can call the district office at 717-274-6735 for help clarifying.
Later Tuesday, State Rep. Russ Diamond (R-102) introduced a resolution that would allow the General Assembly to “terminate the COVID-19 Disaster Emergency declared by the governor, if the need arises.”
“While a Disaster Emergency declaration is currently necessary, the governor’s recent communication mishaps in conjunction with this declaration were irresponsible and caused confusion and panic across the Commonwealth, especially among the business community,” said Rep. Diamond in a release. Diamond said he wanted to be prepared if a misguided decision by the executive branch occurs.
On Tuesday, the City of Lebanon declared a disaster emergency which gives Mayor Sherry Capello the ability to take actions to meet demands of the emergency, such as hiring temporary workers or entering into a contract, without abiding by the typical process. As reported previously by LebTown, the Municipal Building will be shut down until at least midnight March 30, with City services accessible by phone in the meantime. City Council meetings have been cancelled during this period. The Department of Public Works is taking building and zoning permit applications and plans by drop off with appointment only.
President Judge John Tylwalk of the Lebanon County Court of Common Pleas declared a Judicial emergency on Tuesday through March 30 which will see the discontinuation of in-person filings in the row offices, with filings accepted by mail, email, or fax instead. Hearings are being moved to video conference/teleconference where possible and rescheduled otherwise. Probation Services should only be visited by those with a previously scheduled appointment. Central Court will still be conducted for incarcerated individuals during this period with video conference use determined on a case by case basis. Questions can be directed to the Court Administrator at 717-228-4440.
North Cornwall Township Manager Thomas Long announced that the North Cornwall Township Municipal Building would also be closed to the public beginning Tuesday until further notice.
On Tuesday, WellSpan also confirmed that it had an outdoor testing facility operational at WellSpan Cardiology (775 Norman Drive). This drive-through facility requires a physician order and is open Monday to Friday 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Sunday 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. If you have questions about whether you might need a test, WellSpan has an interactive diagnostic tool on its coronavirus website.
Making a Difference of Lebanon, PA is among the organizations helping with grassroots support efforts locally. Organization leader Cornell Wilson contacted LebTown to note that any seniors who need help with groceries or a prescription can call 717-679-1509 and Making a Difference will do its best to help out.
The United Way of Lebanon County continues to fundraise for COVID-19 relief efforts as well as compiling a list of meal resources for local families.
Today Lebanon Mayor Sherry Capello will release the pre-recorded State of the City address, the annual event at Hebron Fire & Banquet Hall having been disrupted by the virus. That address comes out on Facebook and YouTube at noon.
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