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Pennsylvania health secretary: Out-of-state travelers must test negative for COVID-19, or quarantine

Pennsylvania's latest steps to target COVID
Pennsylvania health official announces targeted efforts to help combat COVID-19 spread 11:58

Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine announced targeted efforts to stem the surge of new COVID-19 cases Tuesday. Anyone who visits from another state will soon be required to have a negative test within 72 hours before entering the state. If they can't or choose not to get a test, or they're still waiting on results, they have to quarantine for 14 days. 

The same goes for Pennsylvanians visiting other states. They're required to get a test 72 hours prior to returning or they have to quarantine for 14 days. "We really want people to stay at home, to stay in their household, and not to travel," Levine said.

The order, which goes into effect on Friday, doesn't apply to people who commute to and from another state for work. 

There is no plan to enforce it. "We have no plans at this time to be checking for tests as people come off airplanes or drive into Pennsylvania," Levine said. But she urged the importance of the measure and others, calling them "extremely important."

Like the rest of the nation, Pennsylvania has seen coronavirus infections explode in recent weeks. The state is reporting more than 5,000 new infections per day, up more than 115% in just two weeks, and hospitalizations and the percentage of tests coming back positive are up sharply. 

Statewide percent positivity for last week is at 9.6%, compared to 6.9% the week before. Sixty-two of the 67 counties have positivity rates above 5%, including Allegheny County, which stands at 7.7%. Deaths are on the rise, as well. 

Pennsylvania already has a statewide mask mandate, limits on indoor and outdoor gatherings and occupancy restrictions at bars and restaurants.   

As CBS Pittsburgh reports, they are now required to be worn indoors and outdoors if people are away from home. If people are outdoors and can't socially distant from someone who doesn't live in their household, they have to wear a mask. If they're indoors, masks are required even if people are physically distant from others who don't live in their household. 

"Wearing a mask is one of the simplest steps we can all take to slow the spread of COVID-19," Levine said Tuesday.  

Also announced Tuesday were guidelines for hospitals and recommendations for colleges to implement a testing plan for students returning to class after the holidays.

College Students Take COVID-19 Tests Before Traveling Home For the Holiday
Bradley Strauss, testing site manager, wipes down a table between students doing tests at the Penn State Berks Beaver Community Center gymnasium in Spring Township on November 16, 2020. Students were doing saliva COVID-19 departure tests ahead of going home for the Thanksgiving break. Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

Governors and mayors around the country have been tightening restrictions in response to the worsening pandemic. On Monday, Philadelphia said it would ban indoor gatherings and indoor dining and shutter casinos, gyms, museums and libraries. 

Levine said Monday this "significant" fall resurgence is happening in part because the colder weather is driving people inside, where respiratory viruses like COVID are spread more easily.

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