National Health Policy Leaders Endorse Governor’s ‘Bold’ Action to Stop Another COVID Surge in Pennsylvania

National health policy leaders endorsed Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s most recent mitigation efforts to stop another surge of COVID-19 cases in the commonwealth, reminding all Pennsylvanians that by taking these measures now we can stop further spread and end mitigation efforts sooner.

“In this pandemic, it is imperative to take bold action before cases rise exponentially—to get ahead of the curve,” said Ezekiel J. Emanuel, M.D., Ph.D., former special advisor for health policy to President Obama, and vice provost for Global Initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania. “Gov. Wolf is doing just that. We need to ensure physical distancing, the wearing of face masks, and limiting indoor activities. Gov. Wolf’s actions to implement these measures will save lives and allow continued reopening of the economy in a safe and smart way.”

“Governor Wolf is making the very difficult and very necessary decision that will save lives in Pennsylvania,” said Andy Slavitt, former Acting CMS Administrator and United States of Care Board Chair. “Having reviewed the data, seeing Pennsylvania taking steps before this becomes a full-blown crisis is the only way to mitigate an out of control tragedy. I know the governor realizes the hardship caused by the pandemic on Pennsylvanians. These actions will help bring a quicker end to them.”

“Governor Wolf has shown throughout this crisis that he is doing what Washington refuses to do: let science and public health dictate decisions, and taking needed steps to protect the people of Pennsylvania from COVID,” Ron Klain, former chief of staff to Vice-President Biden, and President Obama’s ‘Ebola czar’ said. “That is the best plan to save lives, and, in the long run, promote a sustainable economic recovery.”

Gov. Wolf and Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine put in place additional mitigation efforts on July 15 when multiple data points indicated the state may be headed for another surge in COVID-19 cases. These health experts and the CDC have noted that limiting indoor activities and wearing masks can have a strong positive effect on curtailing another surge.

There is strong evidence to support the state’s mitigation efforts from several different data points. The state is seeing an increase in cases in the 19-24 and 25-49 age demographics, repeating the cycle experienced at the beginning of the outbreak. And as Dr. David Rubin from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and its PolicyLab has reported, we are seeing a dramatic increase in these age brackets throughout the state.

Data from Allegheny County indicate increases in these demographics and that exposure happened at bars and restaurants, particularly where alcohol was involved.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health also conducted analyses and case investigations in counties outside of Allegheny that demonstrate bars and restaurants as a nexus for the spread of COVID-19.

The CDC, on its website about restaurants and bars amidst COVID-19, lays out several different categories of risk. The highest risk is on-site dining with both indoor and outdoor seating, where seating capacity is not reduced, and tables not spread at least 6 feet apart.

The mitigation efforts Pennsylvania is taking in bars and restaurants are necessary to keep restaurants and bars at the CDC’s described lowest risk level possible, without completely curtailing indoor dining.

The governor’s most recent order on mitigation efforts can be found here.

The secretary’s order on mask-wearing can be found here.

FAQs on mask-wearing can be found here.