Ten COVID-19 deaths in Franklin County were suddenly reported Tuesday, a day after Pennsylvania's the stay-at-home order was extended until May 8.
Previously no deaths were reported among the county's positive cases, a number that jumped from 115 on Monday to 143 on Tuesday.
Pennsylvania Department of Health representatives said the 10 deaths, which have occurred over time, are probable deaths now being added to the statistics.
Some 282 of the 360 new deaths reported Tuesday throughout the state are part of the probable death count, Maggi Mumma said in an email from the Department of Health.
Dr. Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania Department of Health secretary, said during a Tuesday afternoon media briefing the probable deaths now being reported in the statistics are people who had not been tested for COVID-19.
“Confirmed deaths are those Pennsylvanians who have died and for whom we have a positive test result for COVID-19,” Levine explained. “Probable deaths are those Pennsylvanians who have died and their death certificate lists COVID-19 as a cause or contributing cause of death, but who did not have a positive test result for COVID-19.”
Franklin County's first positive case of COVID-19 was recorded in DOH statistics on March 20. Cases have been on a steady, but small, daily climb. However, no deaths were reported by the Department of Health until Tuesday.
On Monday, Gov. Tom Wolf and Levine announced that the statewide stay-at-home order issued on April 1 to protect Pennsylvanians and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 will be extended until Friday, May 8 at 12:01 a.m. The initial order was set to expire on April 30.
“It is clear that our early and aggressive efforts to mitigate this spread of this highly contagious and deadly virus are working. While we begin to seek ways to move forward, it’s imperative that we continue to take strong precautions to protect Pennsylvanians and ensure that our health care system is not overwhelmed,” Wolf said. “I am so proud of this commonwealth and the resilience of my fellow Pennsylvanians, and I urge you to continue to stay calm and stay home so that we can all stay safe.”
“We are starting to see a downward trend in the number of positive cases throughout the state, which is definitely encouraging,” Levine said. “We need to proceed carefully to make sure the strides we’ve made in combatting this virus continue to move forward. Extending our statewide order until May 8 will ensure that we don’t overwhelm our health system, while helping our economy to recover.”
Non-life-sustaining physical business closures remain in effect, while life-sustaining businesses and state services will continue.
Individuals are permitted to leave their homes for tasks essential to maintaining health and safety.
Wolf recommended that Pennsylvanians continue to wear masks when leaving the house for life-sustaining reasons.
"We know that everyone who has had COVID-19 has not been able to be tested, especially if they have no symptoms or very mild symptoms," Levine said. "We know that people could have COVID-19 and never develop symptoms. So when you go out to a life-sustaining business or activity, you need to wear a mask ... Remember, my mask protects you and your mask protects me."
The governor vetoed a plan approved in the state House of Representatives and Senate that would have started to get businesses back in business.
"Senate Bill 613 would not immediately or fully reopen the state’s economy. Instead, it would allow businesses that can comply with federal mitigation guidelines to resume operations and bring people back to work safely," according to state Rep. Paul Schemel, a Republican whose district includes Greencastle and Antrim Township.
"This is the same standard that 42 other states adopted," Schemel explained in his weekly column prior to the governor's veto. "Small businesses and their employees, self-employed workers, independent contractors and others should be given the opportunity to modify their operations and return to work. This would also allow them to continue providing for their families."
Following the veto of Senate Bill 613, House Majority Leader Rep. Bryan Cutler, a Republican from Lancaster County, issued the following statement:
“House Republicans have carried the voices of millions of frustrated and worried Pennsylvanians throughout this pandemic. Pennsylvanians are rightfully frustrated their jobs are being cut or eliminated, their children’s education has been canceled for the remainder of the academic year, their family-owned business are failing and their future is in jeopardy.
“For weeks we have urged Gov. Wolf to take action to allow segments of our economy to resume under publicly available safety policies. We are disappointed he vetoed a plan to allow him to provide a pathway to Pennsylvanians to get back to work safely and responsibly. However, we are encouraged to see him join us in moving towards helping some segments of our economy. Our members will continue to speak up for Pennsylvanians who feel silenced in this pandemic, and we will continue to work tirelessly to help every Pennsylvanian recover and rebuild.”
The governor did sign Senate Bill 841 that provides flexibility on property tax deadlines; allows remote public meetings; allows notarization of documents so online vehicle sales can resume; and allows school districts to renegotiate contracts with service providers to ensure payment of personnel and fixed costs during the school closure.
Cases by ZIP code
The Pennsylvania Department of Health on Monday unveiled a new part of its online reporting page that shows positive COVID-19 cases by ZIP codes.
The county and ZIP code maps can be found at:
The ZIP code map does not show deaths, but positive cases in Franklin County as of Wednesday morning included:
Greencastle (17225) — 11
Waynesboro (17268) — 19
Mercersburg (17236) — 8
Chambersburg (17201) — 55
Chambersburg (17202) — 15
Fayetteville (17222) — 13
Statstics for smaller postal areas, including Shady Grove and State Line, are not yet available on the map.
"What's important to remember about this information is that if there are a lower number of cases in your ZIP code, it doesn't mean it is safe to resume your normal activities, discontinue social distancing or go out without a mask," Levine said.
Gannett reporter Joyce F. Nowell contributed to this story.