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Delaware County Council, joined by members of Delaware County’s Emergency Services and Delaware County’s Department of Intercommunity Health held a press conference on March 12 to provide an update on 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19.)
This afternoon, Governor Wolf announced COVID-19 mitigation efforts and guidance on how to reduce the spread of the virus in Pennsylvania. The state now has a total of 22 cases in Pennsylvania. Fortunately, Delaware County remains at one confirmed case.
This afternoon Governor Wolf announced guidance for the entire state and also specific guidance for Montgomery County, which currently has 13 cases. The guidance is effective immediately and through the next 14 days.
Governor Wolf strongly encouraged the suspension of large gatherings of 250 people or more.
He discouraged people from traveling to recreational activities like gyms, movie theaters and shopping malls. He also encouraged religious leaders to exercise discretion in order to mitigate the spread of the virus. Non-essential state offices will also be closing and state employees will work remotely from home if possible.
In Montgomery County:
Governor Wolf issued new preventative procedures that will be in place starting tomorrow and continue for 14 days.
The closing of all Montgomery County schools, state licensed daycares and adult day care centers.
The recommendation for non-essential retail facilities to close.
“Our neighbors in Montgomery County have 13 cases and for some of us that is just across the street from our County,” said Delaware County Council Chairman Brian Zidek. “Many of our residents work, go to school, go to the Doctor’s or visit Montgomery County every day.”
This is a rapidly changing situation and the County’s guidance, the State’s guidance and the Federal Government’s guidance is evolving as we work to prevent the spread of the virus and keep our residents safe.
Chairman Brian Zidek spoke with the Director of PEMA and the Governor’s office this evening, prior to providing residents with an update and guidance.
The County is encouraging non-essential businesses and organizations in Delaware County to allow employees to work remotely if possible in order to reduce staff and allow for social distancing. Prudent measures and precautions should be taken to reduce the spread of this virus.
As of tonight the state is not advising that schools in Delaware County close, however we should prepare for that. Most colleges and universities have already moved to online learning.
“We are just blocks away from Montgomery County and we expect that Delaware County may be following the same preventative measures shortly,” said Zidek. “Residents should start to prepare. We expect to announce additional preventions and guidance tomorrow and in the coming days.”
Some changes and cancellations in Government events have already been made.
In an effort to eliminate large gatherings and allow for social distancing, the County is changing the process in which we are conducting informal hearings for our Tax Reassessment. Effective Monday, March 16 all informal property reviews with Tyler Technologies will be conducted by telephone. There will not be any in person informal hearings. If you already have an in-person informal hearing scheduled- Tyler Technologies will be calling you within an hour of that scheduled time to conduct your informal hearing by phone. If you are scheduling an informal hearing- you will be given a time to for a phone hearing. Residents can submit documents by email or by mail. The process to appeal will remain the same, however it will now be done exclusively by phone instead of in person.
The County had scheduled dozens of voting machine demonstrations across the County in March and April. Those are all being cancelled. Residents can visit the County’s website to watch a tutorial on the new machines: www.delcopa.gov/electionsbureau/index.html
As we move towards social distancing and announce cancellations and possible closures, Delaware County will be working to offer services and communications to residents by phone and online. We are working to set up phone town halls with elected leaders and other partners in the community as a means to communicate with residents.
Council also announced that the Redwood Community Center in Upland Park will be closed until further notice. This was decided as a prevention to protect the elderly residents who attend Community Center events.
The situation is rapidly changing and Delaware County expects to announce further procedures and guidance in the next day or two.
“We understand that as new details emerge that many residents are becoming alarmed,” said Delaware County Council Vice Chair Dr. Monica Taylor. “None of the measures being taken on a Federal, State or County level are meant to cause panic—but rather to make sure we are all being prudent and taking measures to prevent the spread of this virus.”
Most residents have heard this advice, but another reminder:
Right now the best way to protect yourself is to take the same precautions you would to prevent the flu or common cold:
Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze with your elbow to avoid touching your face
Wash your hands often with soap and warm/hot water for at least 20 seconds
Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available
Clean surfaces frequently, including countertops, light switches, cell phones, remotes, and other frequently touched items
If you are feeling sick, stay home. Rest, take care of yourself and don’t spread the germs.
If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you are asked to call the State Health Department at 1-877-PA-HEALTH.
The County has created a website dedicated to information on the Coronavirus, including prevention, resources and a FAQ section with link to the PA Health Department and CDC.
The website is: www.delcopa.gov/ich/resources/coronavirus.html
Residents are encouraged to register for the DelcoAlert notification system which alerts residents of updates and emergencies. You can register here: www.delcopa.gov/delcoalert/delcoalert.html