Gov. Tom Wolf

Gov. Tom Wolf, shown speaking last year in Bridgeville

Gov. Tom Wolf today ordered all nonessential businesses to close at midnight to help slow the spread of novel coronavirus as the number of those with the illness rose to 76 in Pennsylvania.

Wolf gave an exception to bars and restaurants, asking them to limit their business to take-out only.

"We're not sending out the state police or national guard to enforce this," Wolf said at a 2 p.m. briefing on the state's response to the virus.

He said he asked casinos to shut down, as well, to help prevent a wide-scale community spread of the virus.

"I would like for people to stay home 24 hours a day," Wolf said.

He said the state would lift the request to close businesses as soon as possible, that Pennsylvania was following the leads of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Ohio in making the decision.

Businesses such as grocery stores, pharmacies and health-care facilities were to remain open, he said.

State health Secretary Rachel Levine said 670 people who have been tested for the virus had negative results.

Levine said her office has been receiving a lot of questions from parents if it's permissible for their children to have play dates and sleepovers.

"The simple answer is no," Levine said when she joined the governor at the briefing.

She said others have asked about the length of time the virus can live on surfaces, that she didn't know for sure and suggested the use of sanitizing wipes before touching such things as gasoline nozzles.

Wolf also urged people to call or video chat with loved ones to lessen the chance of spreading the virus.

"If you do not have symptoms, do not get tested," Levine said.

Those who have symptoms need to call their physician or 911 to get tested.

Wolf also said the state has begun to stockpile resources such as respirators.

While most of the positive cases remained Monday in southeastern Pennsylvania, Washington County still had one such case and Allegheny County had six.

Montgomery County has been the epicenter of the outbreak, recording 30 positive tests for the virus.

Staff Writer

Scott Beveridge is a North Charleroi native who has lived most of his life in nearby Rostraver Township. He is a general assignments reporter focusing on investigative journalism and writing stories about the mid-Mon Valley.

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