Senator Baker: COVID-19 Cases Highlight Need for Public Health Emergency Declarations

Harrisburg – Senator Lisa Baker (R-20) released the following statement following Gov. Wolf’s signing of a COVID-19 emergency disaster declaration. Earlier today, Wolf confirmed the first two presumptive positive cases in Pennsylvania. One of the individuals tested is from Wayne County in the 20th Senatorial District.

“Reports of two presumptive positive cases of COVID-19, or coronavirus, require an immediate response, and the Governor’s emergency disaster declaration is warranted. 

“This situation highlights the need to pass legislation to provide a Governor the ability to declare public health emergencies. Such a declaration would authorize the Department of Health to waive regulations, create new temporary regulations, publish notice in the Pennsylvania Bulletin for tracking and treating a disease, and allow public workers to provide treatment to control the emergency. 

“While a Governor can currently a disaster emergency, the ability to declare a public health emergency would be better suited for scenarios such as containing COVID-19. The Senate passed Senate Bill 633 providing for public health emergency declarations. I urge the House of Representatives help us get this important legislation enacted.” 

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), symptoms of the COVID-19 can include fever, cough and shortness of breath. The symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. Reported illnesses have ranged from people with little to no symptoms to people being severely ill and dying. Individuals most at risk for severe symptoms include elderly and those with pre-existing conditions.

Anyone who does not feel well should: 

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol- based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Cover any coughs or sneezes with their elbow, not their hands.
  • Clean surfaces frequently, such as countertops, light switches, cell phones and other frequently touched areas.
  • Contain – if someone is sick, they should stay home until they are feeling better.

Officials also recommend creating an emergency home kit containing non-perishable food, bottled water, medications, flashlights and extra batteries, a first aid kit, warm clothing, baby and pet supplies, and anything else you may need.

For more information on coronavirus visit the Department of Health website at or call 1-877-PAHEALTH.

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