Pennsylvania officials on Monday issued a stay-at-home advisory and announced they will restrict alcohol sales in bars and restaurants starting at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving eve in an effort to combat the rise of new and an alarming rate of hospitalizations in the state.
"We are in a very disastrous situation," Governor Tom Wolf said in a press briefing Monday afternoon. "We'll be stepping up enforcement of all public health orders," he added.
Pennsylvania is ordering bars, restaurants and private catered events to stop alcohol sales for on-site consumption at 5 p.m. local time on November 25 only. Officials said "indoor dining may continue, takeout is encouraged."
"The biggest day for drinking is the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. I don't like addressing that anymore than anyone else does, but it's a fact," Wolf said. "When people get together in that situation it leads to an increase in the exchange of the fluids that leads to increased infection."
State health officials are also encouraging residents to heed the stay-at-home advisory that was imposed Monday — and urged people to leave home only for necessary activities. Pennsylvanians are also encouraged to wear masks, social distance when possible and avoid large gatherings.
"Law enforcement and state agencies will be stepping up enforcement efforts, issuing citations and fines, and possible regulatory actions for repeat offenders," Dr. Rachel Levine, the state's health secretary, said.
"Local leaders at all levels of government should exercise their authority and influence to support public health efforts that will protect residents and local economies," the state said in its press release detailing Monday's coronavirus mitigation efforts.
"In the past week, the number of COVID-19-attributable deaths has quadrupled, and the average daily case count is seven times higher than it was two months ago," the release noted. Health officials predicted that if mitigation efforts aren't followed, there could be more than 32,000 deaths due to the coronavirus in the state by February 23, 2021.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been more than 12 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins University, and more than 257,000 deaths.