COVID-19 Update, March 30: First death recorded in Chesco; state, local infections continue to rise

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Updated, 3 pm: Adds four new counties under “stay at home” orders.

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times

A map showing the cases of COVID-19 cases in Chester County as of March 30. Courtesy, Chester County Health Department.

Chester County suffered its first fatality, Sunday, from the COVID-19 virus, county officials said Monday.

The victim was an 89-year-old male who lived in Willistown Township and died Sunday. He had been hospitalized and had a number of underlying conditions.

The Chester County Commissioners issued a statement Monday afternoon on the county’s first death.

Chester County Commissioners Marian Moskowitz, Josh Maxwell and Michelle Kichline said in a joint statement:

“We were heartbroken to learn of this first death in Chester County, and on behalf of the whole community, we offer our deepest condolences to loved ones of this individual.

“We cannot emphasize enough the need at this time for everyone to follow the stay-at-home order, to focus on the things that are only absolutely essential, and heed the hygiene steps recommended, so that we can work together to call a halt to this dreadful virus.”

Infections and deaths from COVID-19 continue to grow statewide in Pennsylvania and new cases continue to be reported in Chester County as of Monday.

The state’s Department of Health reported 4,087 cases on Monday, an increase of 693 cases from Sunday. The state reports 33,777 negative tests to date.

“The continued rise in cases combined with our increasing deaths from COVID-19 reflects the seriousness of this situation,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said in a statement Monday. “We need everyone to listen to the orders in place and to stay calm, stay home and stay safe. We know that these prolonged mitigation effects have been difficult for everyone, but it is essential that everyone follows these orders and does not go out unless they absolutely must.”

Monday afternoon, Gov. Tom Wolf added four more counties — bringing the statewide total to 26 — to his Stay at Home orders to Carbon, Cumberland, Dauphin, and Schuylkill counties.

Meanwhile, in Chester County the number of positive tests rose to 146, with 1,415 negative tests in the county to date. Chester County has online resources for residents, including a dashboard that provides geographic and demographic information on all reported cases in the county, which can be found at   

State officials continue to move to address the ongoing pandemic and its economic impact.

On Sunday, Gov. Tom Wolf requested a major disaster declaration from the President through the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide additional support for state, county and municipal governments and certain nonprofits, as well as individuals who are struggling during the COVID-19 outbreak.

“The COVID-19 outbreak has taxed our commonwealth and our communities in ways that are almost incomprehensible,” said Gov. Wolf. “I am calling on the President and the federal government to make available to us the assistance that will make a tangible difference in the lives of our friends and neighbors, and the dedicated public servants who are working in overdrive to support them.”

Pennsylvania already received an emergency declaration under the President’s nationwide emergency proclamation, which provides reimbursement for eligible expenses for emergency protective measures to state, county and local governments and certain nonprofits for the duration of the emergency incident. The declared nationwide emergency incident started Jan. 20, 2020, and continues.

Also on Sunday, Department of Corrections Sec. John Wetzel announced that at 10:00 PM on March 29, he implemented a statewide inmate quarantine in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Quarantining the entire system is in the best interest of our employees and our inmates,” Wetzel said. “This is essentially forced social distancing. We must take this step to contain the virus to one facility and to keep it from spreading throughout the system. I don’t want to wait until we have several cases in our system to act. We’re taking this proactive measure now.”

State Police continued enforcement of the governor’s order for “non life-sustaining” businesses to shut down through at least April 6, issuing 18 more warnings this past weekend.

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