(Jake Epstein/B&W Staff)

Coronavirus updates: Gov. Wolf: PA to shutdown, Officials say presumptive case of coronavirus in Bethlehem


This story serves as a summary of recent coronavirus developments as of March 15.

JUST IN: Gov. Tom Wolf announced at a press conference today that there will be a statewide shutdown that will go into effect Tuesday at midnight, to further prevent the spread of coronavirus. 

Wolf spoke with State Bureau of Epidemiology Director Dr. Sharon Watkins and Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine via a “remote” press conference from the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency headquarters near Harrisburg, with reporters asking questions through the internet. 

The statewide shutdown includes all non-essential businesses, including bars, casinos and child care centers. 

Wolf said he would like people to stay home 24 hours a day.

Pennsylvania has now confirmed 76 total cases and there were 13 new cases since Sunday. Montgomery County reported six new cases and now has a total of 30 cases. Monroe County reported two new cases. 

According to The Morning Call, Lehigh and Northampton counties each have one case. 

Wolf said medical facilities and grocery stores will remain open for now, but encourages everybody to remain home and distance themselves. 

He said the fewer contacts people make, the less likely they are to get the disease.

Wolf also encouraged nonessential offices to close and unnecessary business activity to halt in the rest of the state. 

Pennsylvania joins numerous states with tight public restrictions, such as New York, New Jersey, California, Ohio and Massachusetts. 

As of Monday, there are over 175,000 cases of coronavirus worldwide. 

March 15: The first presumptive positive case of COVID-19 in Bethlehem has been confirmed, according to a joint press release from the Bethlehem Health Department and Emergency Management.

The patient, a Bethlehem resident in the Lehigh County portion of the city, is an employee at Lehigh Valley Hospital 17th St. in Allentown. 

They are currently self-quarantining at home.

Officials with the Lehigh Valley Health Network said the patient has not been at LVHN-17th St. since last experiencing symptoms on March 5.

This case marks the 63rd case in Pennsylvania — up from 19 on Thursday. The Pennsylvania Department of Health reported an earlier case in Northampton County, which, according to President John Simon, was one reason for Lehigh’s decision to move to online classes for the rest of the semester. 

Free coronavirus screenings are being offered online by Lehigh Valley Health Network and St. Luke’s University Health Network.

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