Released: July 24, 2020
With the arrival of warm summer weather and the relaxation of social restrictions, Delaware County is beginning to see the same troubling trends that other states have seen: An increase in new Coronavirus cases, test result processing delays, and young people and children increasingly at risk.
As part of the effort to combat community spread of Coronavirus, contact tracing has been employed to identify those who have been exposed. Through this process public health officials are learning that a large percentage of residents have contracted the virus while visiting New Jersey beaches, attending July 4th barbeques, and socializing without masks.
Despite the long-standing perception that the virus is primarily spread among older residents and those with pre-existing co-morbidities, the latest data shows that roughly 40% of all new cases in Delaware County are now found among those under the age of 30.
“We know that some of our younger residents have been socially responsible and we commend them,” said Delaware County Councilwoman Elaine Paul Schaefer. “However, both anecdotal evidence and contact tracing data warns us that the virus is increasingly affecting our young people. We all must continue to adhere to the State’s guidance and remember that a crowded bar or party is one of the most likely places to contract and spread the virus.”
Daycare and pre-schools are also now seeing an increase in cases as community spread has increasingly moved into younger demographics. This shift is putting the health of teachers and administrators at greater risk and raising concerns over the ability of public and private schools to open fully in the fall. The impact of increasing community spread, and the resultant closure of local schools would have a damaging impact on families, children, and the community at large.
“Delaware County is at a critical junction, and all residents, especially our young people, need to follow the public health safety guidelines that have been put in place,” said Delaware County Council Chairman Brian Zidek. “While the understanding is that young people are less likely to develop significant symptoms, they are nevertheless capable of spreading the virus with only mild symptoms or even when completely asymptomatic—and this can have a devastating impact on family, teachers, and others in the community who may be in a higher risk pool.”
It is critical that people of all ages continue to follow the safety guidelines that have successfully blunted the expansion of Coronavirus in recent months, especially when socializing and patronizing local dining establishments: Wear a mask, practice social distancing, and continue to follow proper hygiene recommendations.
Bar and restaurant owners are reminded that compliance with the state’s public health order is mandatory. Law Enforcement is inspecting establishments with liquor licenses and a hotline and website have been set up to allow people to report non-compliant businesses. Businesses who fail to comply may face a citation, fine and/or a suspension of their license.
Patrons, residents and other business owners are asked to report businesses that are not following the order. Reports can be made to the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement by phone at 1-800-932-0602 or online at www.psp.pa.gov/LCE/Pages/report-a-violation.aspx. Bar owners who are found to be out of compliance may face a citation, fine and/or a suspension of their license.
Sales of alcohol for on-premises consumption are only permissible as part of a larger transaction that includes a meal. The term “meal” is defined as “food prepared on the premises, sufficient to constitute breakfast, lunch or dinner.” Snacks, such as pretzels, popcorn, chips, or similar food, do not meet the definition of a meal.
A customer who wishes to consume alcohol on premises must also purchase a meal; a group of customers who wish to consume alcohol on premises may do so as long as a meal is part of the purchase made by the group.
Additional drinks may be purchased while the customer is consuming the meal, but no further drinks may be purchased after the meal is finished.
Bar service of food and/or alcohol is prohibited.
For Pennsylvania manufacturers (breweries, distilleries, and wineries), meals may be provided by the licensee or by a third party, such as a food truck.
Casinos may no longer provide drink service on the casino floor.
If a club does not sell food, either directly or through a concessionaire, it cannot use its liquor license.
The governor’s additional order directing targeted mitigation measures specifically prohibits businesses that meet the definition of a “nightclub” under the Clear Indoor Air Act from operating.
All customers and groups of customers must be at least six feet away from each other or be separated by physical barriers; spouses can be at the same table and less than six feet away, strangers cannot.
Customers must wear masks while entering, exiting or traveling through the premises, unless the customer has a medical condition which prevents them from wearing one; children under the age of two years do not have to wear masks. Masks can be removed while the customers are seated.
Employees are required to wear a mask while working at a restaurant or bar.
Occupancy is limited to 25 percent of stated fire-code maximum occupancy for indoor dining, or 25 persons for a discrete indoor event or gathering in a restaurant. The maximum occupancy limit includes staff.
Details regarding guidance for bars and restaurants can be found here:
Events and gatherings must adhere to these gathering limitations:
Indoor events and gatherings of more than 25 persons are prohibited.
Outdoor events and gatherings of more than 250 persons are prohibited.
The maximum occupancy limit includes staff.
Delaware County continues to work with public health officials from the state, the Chester County Health Department, and the Delaware County Chamber of Commerce to ensure businesses and residents are educated and informed about current guidance.
The Chester County Health Department maintains a robust web page with information, with detailed guidance and materials of interest to employers, workers, congregate care facilities, first responders, etc. Visit their site at www.chesco.org/4376/Coronavirus-COVID-19.
Delaware County maintains an up-to-date list of public testing sites at www.delcopa.gov/ich/resources/covid19/testing.html and provides important links to community resources at www.delcopa.gov/ich/resources/resourcesforcommunity.html.
More details on the Governor’s “Process to Reopen Pennsylvania” can be found here: www.governor.pa.gov/process-to-reopen-pennsylvania/.
As of July 23, there were 104,358 positive cases in the state and 7,079 deaths. There have been 8,097 positive cases in Delaware County and 719 deaths due to COVID-19. The Chester County Health Department continues to track recovery data on its COVID-19 dashboard. As of July 22, 80% of residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 have recovered.