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Now it's an order: Masks required when leaving home in Pa.

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch

State Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine on Wednesday afternoon expanded the state's mask order, which essentially requires anyone who leaves their home to wear a face covering.

The updated mandate, which took effect immediately, comes as several states see spikes in COVID-19 cases, particularly throughout the Sunbelt and West. State officials have yet to signal that the state is having the same issue, though day-over-day increases remain in the hundreds.

Cases have specifically spiked in Allegheny County, leading officials there to slam the brakes on reopening measures.

“It is essential that Pennsylvanians wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Levine said. “While cases increase in some areas, we cannot become complacent."

Health Secretary Rachel Levine said in early June her department is "working to update and rewrite our regulations to ensure that they protect the residents of today and tomorrow."

More:Coronavirus pandemic: Here's what York County's data looks like

More:York County has 16 new cases of COVID-19, statewide cases break 87K

More:Cases spike in Sunbelt, other states back off on reopening

As of noon Wednesday, there had been 87,242 cases of COVID-19 and 6,687 deaths linked to the virus statewide. All counties but Lebanon are in the green phase of reopening, and it will move from yellow to green Friday.

York County has reported 1,531 cases and 48 deaths.

Gov. Tom Wolf's administration has sent additional information to state and local officials, as well as law enforcement agencies "tasked with education about the order for those not in compliance," according to a Wednesday news release.

Exceptions to the mandate include those who cannot wear a mask due to a medical condition, are under 2 years of age or are trying to communicate with someone with impaired hearing. Masks also are not required for people who are only going outside and who will be able to maintain a 6-foot distance from others not in their household. 

The Wolf administration's expansion came a day after Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during a U.S. Senate hearing that “Americans who don’t wear masks may propagate the further spread of infection.”

With 40,000 new cases daily throughout the U.S., Fauci also has expressed concern that the daily number of new positive tests could reach 100,000.

President Donald Trump on Wednesday doubted the need for a national mandate, despite spikes in numerous states, but he remarked that "masks are good."

The president himself has often been criticized for not wearing a mask in public.

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