March 21, 2020
COVID-19 report update, correction re: churches
Churches exempted from PA businesses that must close by Monday

NEWSpirit Digest reported yesterday on Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s declaration that all “non-life-sustaining businesses” must close or face penalties as of this morning. The action was taken to help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. The governor has today extended the enforcement deadline to Monday, March 23, at 8 AM.

We initially reported that “religious organizations,” including churches, are exempt from this order, because they are on a list of "life-sustaining businesses.” But in the last paragraph of our story we misreported the opposite—i.e., that they are not exempt.

Our story headline and initial paragraph were correct; but we hasten to correct and apologize for our error in the final paragraph. To be clear, churches are considered “life-sustaining” and thus, they are exempt from the governor’s closure order.

The governor has also made some additions to the list of businesses that are considered life-sustaining and thus, are permitted to stay open. They include. dry cleaning stores, laundromats and specialty food stores, as well as insurance agencies, brokerages and accounting and tax preparation services.

Wolf said all other businesses must close because "This virus is an invisible danger that could be present everywhere. We need to act with the strength we use against any other severe threat. And, we need to act now before the illness spreads more widely."

An updated list of life-sustaining businesses is  here .  They include grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies, and “religious organizations,” which includes churches.
Coronavirus cases in PA climb. Advice: stay home, stay safe

The number of coronavirus cases in Pennsylvania continues to climb. In two days, the number of new cases doubled.  On Friday, health officials announced 83 new cases, bringing the statewide COVID-19 cases to 302. There are 2,574 patients who have tested negative, and there has been one reported death.

Officials say the increases are due to the virus spreading, as well as to increased testing.  Testing sites are being set up at various locations in our region, with restrictions and prerequisite steps people must take before going for testing. In order to get tested, you have to exhibit symptoms and make an appointment.

“Our notable increase in cases over the last few days indicates we need everyone to take COVID-19 seriously,” PA Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “Pennsylvanians have a very important job right now: stay calm, stay home and stay safe. We have seen case counts continue to increase and the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to stay home.”

Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of The United Methodist Church
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