PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Pennsylvania health officials have stepped in to try to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Delaware County.
County officials requested help as they hit the highest number of COVID-19 cases since the pandemic started.
Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine authorized the order with three specific restrictions, which were voted on by Delaware County Council.
“Delaware County is among those counties seeing serious increases in case counts and concomitant increases in deaths,” Levine said in a release. “Because of the continued countywide spread of cases, the County Council has requested that the (state Health) Department take additional action out of concern that the increase in case counts in that County will continue unless additional mitigation measures are implemented.”
Per the order, restaurant customers and bar patrons in Delaware County must wear a mask unless they are eating or drinking. Operators are required to limit four people to a table at a time.
And, events and gatherings in the county are now limited to no more than 10 people.
At its Nov. 18 public meeting, which was streamed online, the Delaware County Council voted to pass a resolution requesting Gov. Tom Wolf and the Pennsylvania Department of Health to enact additional mitigation strategies.
Levine has now implemented those strategies. The order, which took effect on Nov. 21, will remain in effect until at least Jan. 2, 2021.
In a Wednesday release, county officials said: “While the Chester County Health Department has been supporting Delaware County in its COVID-19 response, it must rely on the (Pennsylvania Department of Health) to issue orders,” as it does not have its own county health department.
Only one councilmember, Elaine Paul Schaefer, opposed the initial motion for the request, citing underlying concerns, including the county’s lack of its own health department.
“I feel like it’s hindering our efforts. But alas, that is what we have to deal with when we don’t have a health department,” she said at the Nov. 18 meeting. “We don’t have the authority to govern ourselves on this front. We have to ask the state to govern us in our own piecemeal way.”
Last week, Delaware County exceeded the highest number of COVID-19 cases since the height of the pandemic. At its peak, there were 232 cases a day. On Nov. 18, Delaware County reported 287 cases.
To date, there have been 118,307 total cases and 849 deaths.
Both state and local authorities will help enforce Delaware County’s restrictions with citations, fines and “possibly regulatory actions for repeat offenders.”