At the end of a day that represented an increase of nearly 700 new cases of coronavirus, President Donald Trump declared a major disaster in Pennsylvania on Monday night.
Gov. Tom Wolf stated that the declaration will assure the necessary resources to help the state and local governments.
“It would just give us a little more latitude, more flexibility and some more dollars from the federal government,” Wolf explained during a press conference on Monday before Trump approved his request. “I think the federal disaster declaration actually gives us some monetary support that we don’t have without it.”
“The President’s action makes Federal funding available to Commonwealth and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations for emergency protective measures, including direct Federal assistance, for all areas in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania impacted by COVID-19,” the White House said in a statement.
After the declaration, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health Tuesday announced 182 additional presumptive confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Philadelphia. That brings the number of confirmed cases to 1,072.
The alarming spike made Wolf to add four more counties (Carbon, Cumberland, Dauphin and Schuylkill) to a separate stay-at-home order and extended its duration by more than three weeks, through at least April 30. The governor also extended the shutdown of all state schools “indefinitely.”
He referred to the problems these measures may bring to the residents’ everyday lives, but at the same time stressed the urgency of being serious about the situation. Wolf said that to be asked to stay home “isn’t easy to hear,” but is necessary to save lives and keep hospitals from becoming overwhelmed.
“This virus is now in 59 of our 67 counties. And the number of new cases continues to grow each day,” the Democratic governor said.
At the moment, more than 10 million Pennsylvania residents, or 80% of the state’s population, have been instructed to remain in their homes.