Harrisburg, PA – As we wrap up this long holiday weekend, Pennsylvania officials remind us to avoid large crowds, wear a mask if you are in a close area with others (6 feet or less), never drive impaired, and wear a life jacket and boat while sober.

***

Read the press releases from PA Governor Tom Wolf’s office:

HARRISBURG, Pa. (September 4) – With favorable weather expected throughout the Labor Day holiday weekend, many boaters will be taking to the water to celebrate the unofficial end of the summer season.  With heavy boating traffic possible on waters statewide, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) reminds everyone of the importance of safety and sobriety.

“We know that a lot of people are looking forward to getting out on the water this holiday weekend.  Our goal is to make sure they get home safely,” said Col. Corey Britcher, Director of the PFBC Bureau of Law Enforcement.  “Waterways conservation officers (WCOs) will be patrolling rivers, lakes, and streams across the Commonwealth checking for required safety equipment and signs of impaired boating.”

According to an annual report from the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), there were 613 boating fatalities recorded nationwide in 2019.  Of those fatalities, where the cause of death was known, 79% of victims drowned.  Of those who drowned, 86% of victims were not wearing a life jacket.  Alcohol continued to be the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents in 2019, accounting for over 100 deaths, or 23% of total fatalities.

In Pennsylvania last year, there were eight boating fatalities.  Seven of the eight (87.5%) victims in 2019 were not wearing life jackets, and in one of the incidents (12%), alcohol may have been a contributing factor.  In addition, seven of the eight victims (87.5%) in Pennsylvania had not taken, or it was unknown if they had taken a boating safety education course.

To date in 2020, there have been nine boating-related fatalities in Pennsylvania.  Alcohol use is suspected in three (33.3%) of the cases.  All nine of the victims (100%) were not wearing a life jacket.  At least 5 (55.5%) of the victims had either not taken, or it is unknown if they had taken a formal boating education safety course.

***

Harrisburg, PA – As Labor Day weekend approaches, the Wolf Administration is reminding Pennsylvanians to avoid large gatherings and to wear masks around other people to help prevent further spread of COVID-19. Mass gatherings, as defined in the Secretary of Health’s Order, are gatherings of 25 or more people indoors and 250 or more outdoors.

“COVID-19 knows no bounds – it doesn’t respect county or state lines and it certainly doesn’t take a holiday, so it is important that we remind our neighbors to stay safe over the long weekend as COVID-19 remains a threat in our communities,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “Pennsylvanians should refrain from attending large gatherings, and if you do go out and interact with others, social distance, wash your hands frequently and wear a mask. Remember: My mask protects you, and your mask protects me and by wearing a mask it shows that you care about others, and that you are committed to protecting the lives of those around you.”

An increasing number of COVID-19 cases reported attending a gathering when completing their initial case investigation to determine where they went and who they came in contact with while they were infectious. Of the 4,536 confirmed cases reported between August 16 and August 22, 47 percent or 2,114 individuals answered the question as to whether they attended a mass gathering or other large event. Of the 47 percent, nearly 13 percent or 272 individuals answered yes to whether they attended a mass gathering or other large event 14 days prior to onset of symptoms.

The numbers above highlight business settings and mass gatherings as possible sites for transmission. With less than half of those asked about what types of businesses they visited or if they attended a mass gathering responding to the question, the department is reminding Pennsylvanians that it is essential that people answer the phone when case investigators call and to provide full and complete information to these clinical professionals.

If you do gather with a small group of close friends or family, it is important to take precautions to keep everyone safe from COVID-19. If you plan to host a small gathering or barbeque, please follow the following recommendations to protect you and your guests:

  • Greet guests by a smile and/or wave, do not hug or shake hands;
  • Encourage guests to bring their masks, or have masks to provide for those who forgot;
  • Clean and disinfect touched surfaces frequently;
  • Keep tables and chairs spread out in order to allow for proper social distancing;
  • Wash hands before eating or handling food; and
  • Assign individuals to prepare or serve food to avoid further spread of germs.

If you have traveled, or plan to travel, to an area where there are high amounts of COVID-19 cases, it is recommended that you stay at home for 14 days upon return to Pennsylvania. For the most up-to-date list of states please visit the Department of Health’s website to find COVID-19 information for travelers.

Pennsylvanians are encouraged to continue to practice social distancing and other preventive measures, including washing your hands frequently, covering coughs and sneezes, cleaning surfaces often, wearing a mask and staying home if you are sick to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The Wolf Administration stresses the role Pennsylvanians play in helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Cover any coughs or sneezes with your elbow, not your hands.
  • Clean surfaces frequently.
  • Stay home to avoid spreading COVID-19, especially if you are unwell.
  • If you must go out, you are required to wear a mask when in a business or where it is difficult to maintain proper social distancing.

Updated Coronavirus Links: Press Releases, State Lab Photos, Graphics

All Pennsylvania residents are encouraged to sign up for AlertPA, a text notification system for health, weather, and other important alerts like COVID-19 updates from commonwealth agencies. Residents can sign up online at www.ready.pa.gov/BeInformed/Signup-For-Alerts.