UPDATE: First death in Pa. as two coronavirus cases confirmed in York County

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch
Hospital staff work to sanitize a temporary patient screening and testing area after a patient is screened outside the Emergency Department at WellSpan York Hospital in York City, Thursday, March 12, 2020. The tented area will allow patients efficiently tested for the COVID-19 coronavirus in an open air space. Dawn J. Sagert photo

The coronavirus claimed its first victim in Pennsylvania on Wednesday, the same day York County saw its first two confirmed cases.

An unidentified adult in Northampton County who was being treated at a hospital died from the virus, according to the state Department of Health. The department will not be releasing any more details about the individual out of respect for privacy.

"Today's just the first death of what will be many," said Gov. Tom Wolf in a livestream Wednesday evening. "And our only hope is to prevent our hospitals from being overwhelmed."

The state at noon Wednesday announced a total of 133 confirmed coronavirus cases, at least one of which is anticipated to be the result of community spread, Health Secretary Rachel Levine has said.

The two cases in York County are linked, according to a county news release. The individuals have not been hospitalized and remain in their homes. 

York County saw the spread into its boundaries coming, the release states.

"We anticipated this happening," the release states. "We encourage the public to not be alarmed by this development as we work with public health officials and community partners to control the spread."

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Wolf on Monday ordered bars and restaurants to shut down except for takeout and delivery. The governor also “strongly urged” other nonessential businesses such as salons, gyms and concert venues to shutter.

York County and York City both have emergency declarations in effect.

On Wednesday, York County closed most of its government offices until April 6, only allowing for appointments for essential matters, officials announced. Some departments, such as the prison, will remain operational. County officials had planned on keeping the magisterial district courts open, too. But the state Supreme Court ordered courts throughout the state closed Wedneday night. 

All events with more than 50 attendees have also been canceled through April, and county commissioner meetings will be via livestream only.

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York City has closed City Hall visits for 60 days unless residents make an appointment and has completely suspended City Council meetings during that time period, excepting  emergencies.

The city has also indefinitely suspended its sewer and refuse bill amnesty program, banned gatherings of more than 50 people in recreational and business facilities, and made parking garages free.

— Logan Hullinger can be reached at lhullinger@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.