The Lehigh Valley region has been under a “stay -at-home” order from Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf since March 25 in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
Now, since Wolf extended the measure to include all of Pennsylvania on April 1, residents — including local Lehigh students — are quarantining in their homes and avoiding large gatherings.
Maddy Trinkle, ‘22, lives in Allentown. She said the roads are empty and nobody is going anywhere.
The numbers of COVID-19 cases in Northampton and Lehigh counties has skyrocketed since the stay-at-home order was announced. Other students living in the Lehigh Valley have agreed there has been a quietness in the area following the announcement of the order.
The statewide stay-at-home order will be in effect until April 30.
Bachana Bachiashvili, ‘23, is a Bethlehem resident. He said he and his family have not had much contact with the outside world.
“I’m basically in my house all day long, except for an hour or two when we go to a park that’s mostly empty,” Bachiashvili said. “We do most of our grocery shopping on Instacart so we don’t have to go to the store.”
Maddy Jewel, ‘23, lives about two miles from campus, and said when her family ordered take-out, it was delivered outside her home.
“It’s definitely a big change,” Jewel said. “Even before the governor released the order, I was already staying home because my parents kept me at home. There’s a lot on social media, too, about staying home and doing your part.”
She said she recently went to Dunkin Donuts, and they had implemented a system with tape lines to keep customers six feet away from each other.
For the first week following spring break, Jewel said she was seeing her friends and helping them move out of their dorms on campus. However, since the media began stressing the severity of this pandemic and the importance of maintaining social distancing, she has been staying home.
For Trinkle, the adjustment to taking her classes at home has been difficult, as she describes herself as a visual and hands-on learner.
“Taking classes online with just a video doesn’t cut it for me,” Trinkle said. “I find myself slacking off, and it’s very hard to learn.”
Bachiashvili said the governor has offered a waiver system in Pennsylvania. It gives businesses deemed “non-essential” the opportunity to apply for a waiver to receive an exemption from shutting down completely. While these retail stores and small businesses are not open to the public, employees can work.
According to a press release from Wolf’s office, all Pennsylvania schools will remain closed indefinitely.