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Pennsylvania Strengthening Mask Mandate, Requiring COVID-19 Testing For Travelers Amid Coronavirus Surge

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Pennsylvania has strengthened its mask order. Masks are now required to be worn everywhere outside and inside the commonwealth, including where people are indoors with others who are not members of their households.

In addition to sharpening its mask mandate, Pennsylvania officials are requiring COVID-19 testing for travelers.

This comes as the state reported 5,900 new daily coronavirus cases. The numbers have jumped 115 percent in just two weeks.

The state has been resistant to issue new restrictions, like what the City of Philadelphia did Monday in closing indoor dining and gyms. Instead, Pennsylvania outlined what it's calling targeted mitigation.

Traveling is discouraged, but anyone who comes in or out of Pennsylvania should have a negative COVID-19 test or quarantine for 14 days.

The new order, which begins Friday, Nov. 20, does not apply to people who commute to other states for work or medical treatment. Compliance will be voluntary.

"We have no plans at this time to be enforcing, checking for tests as people come off airplanes, certainly as people drive into Pennsylvania," Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said during a Tuesday afternoon briefing. "With freedom comes responsibility, that's not a new concept. That's been articulated since the beginning of our country and we all have a responsibility to work towards the common good and right now that means following these orders."

Levine announced several other new mitigation efforts that follow an update from the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

"That report says there is now aggressive, unrelenting , expanding broad community spread across the country, reaching most counties, without evidence of improvement but rather further deteriorations," Levine said. "Current mitigation efforts are inadequate and must be increased."

Levine also strengthened the mask order from April. They are now required to be worn everywhere outside and inside.

"And this applies if you have people in your home who are not part of your household," the health secretary said.

The state is also directing hospitals to prepare for another surge and move up elective procedures to be ready. Plus, colleges and universities are being instructed to have testing plans for when students return from the holidays.

"Each and every one of us has an important job to do to make sure schools and businesses can stay open and importantly our health care system can treat us if we are sick, whether that's from COVID-19 or another illness," Levine said.

Levine noted other restrictions are already in place in the state that limit the size of gatherings.

She and Gov. Tom Wolf have consistently said they have no intention of implementing another broad-based shutdown like what happened in the spring.


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