Edited from submitted material
On March 24, Wyoming County Commissioners chairman Rick Wilbur posted a fervent message on the Good Friends From Tunkhannock Facebook page to potential visitors to the county, as well as weekenders and second homeowners. Citing numerous reports about an increase in the number of people coming to Wyoming County to escape the high concentrations of COVID-19 in their home areas, Wilbur’s statement echoed a statement made by government officials in rural Sullivan and Delaware Counties in southern New York.
“Wyoming County is responding with measures to proactively reduce further exposure as it impacts our limited resources. While you may be seeking refuge from the larger amount of cases in more populous areas of the commonwealth, you must be aware that this is a global pandemic. You and your family have a critical role to fulfill in halting the rapid spread of this potentially deadly virus, which can be dangerous and even fatal to the elderly and people with underlying health conditions.
The novel coronavirus pandemic has impacted Pennsylvania, which is responding with all resources to contain a growing number of cases. Wyoming County has no confirmed cases, however, the number of exposures will increase with movement into the area from other parts of the state and country, requiring a large amount of resources by Public Health, first responders, health care providers and other government personnel to contain and limit further transmission.
Wyoming County is a rural county with only one hospital. Although fully trained and prepared to handle the COVID-19 crisis, an influx of outsiders can limit their ability to serve a large number of people requiring higher levels of care for COVID-19 patients and other illnesses. This means that any additional needs presented at our local hospitals can tax our medical care system beyond its capacity.
A vaccine does not yet exist, and the effectiveness of existing treatment varies from person to person. Travel into Wyoming County from any area at this time is inadvisable and is highly discouraged. If you do make your way here, you are expected to adhere to the following:
· Please DON’T travel here from another county or geographic area that is experiencing community transmission of COVID-19. It is far better for you to stay home and limit your movements.
· Please DON’T have an expectation that resources will be available to you here that are not available to you in your home town. Wyoming County has a limited number of healthcare resources, and testing capacity is also very limited.
· Please DON’T violate the Order issued by the Governor of Pennsylvania. Should large numbers of individuals move to Wyoming County while COVID-19 community transmission is occurring, it will quickly overwhelm the healthcare, public health, public safety and government. Help may not be available to you if you become in need of medical attention.
· If you have a life-threatening emergency, dial 911. Otherwise, contact the State Coronavirus Hotline at 1-877-724-3258, call your own healthcare provider with questions, or go to the Pennsylvania Dept. of Health website at https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/disease/coronavirus/Pages/Coronavirus.aspx.
· Please DON’T constantly go out in public spaces. If you haven’t brought with you everything you need for your stay, get the remaining items in one shopping trip and then stay close to your property.
· Please DON’T go to unnecessary appointments.
· Please DON’T utilize local healthcare providers unless you absolutely have to. They are deeply impacted by this current crisis and cannot be expected to handle an enormous increase in patient requests. Your own healthcare provider is your best choice.
· Please DON’T go to the hospital or doctor’s office without calling first – in ANY situation, sick or not. Access to healthcare facilities is heavily restricted due to the pandemic, in order to limit continued spread of coronavirus.
· Please DON’T hug, kiss or otherwise touch anyone who is not your immediate family.
· Please DO wash your hands often and for at least 20 seconds, using soap and water. Make sure your family does this, as well. If soap is not available, use hand sanitizer.
· Please DO cough and sneeze into a tissue or your arm, then wash and sanitize your hands. Avoid touching your face.
· Please DO limit social activities to your family only. This includes all activities involving contact with other persons outside of the home.
· Please DO enjoy the outdoors, but maintain a distance of at least six feet from other people.
· Please DO, if you or a family member have a fever, persistent cough or shortness of breath, isolate yourself or them and call your healthcare provider.