- Associated Press - Monday, May 18, 2020

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - With the Memorial Day holiday weekend approaching, Gov. Tom Wolf on Monday questioned the wisdom of beach-going, even as governors in other states reopen their beaches despite worries that the coronavirus outbreak could surge again.

Beaches up and down the East Coast will be open this weekend, albeit with social-distance guidance coming from state and local officials. Wolf, however, has taken a dim view of beach-going while the virus is spreading.

“I wouldn’t go to the beach,” Wolf said at a video news conference in response to a question about whether he was concerned that beach-going would create a rise in coronavirus cases in the Philadelphia region. “There are people there who aren’t wearing masks and you’re putting yourself at risk. I wouldn’t do that, I haven’t done that, and I’m not sure why the governors of Maryland and New Jersey have opened their beaches, but they have.”

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy will let individual shore towns decide whether to reopen beaches. His guidance directed them to set occupancy limits, require 6 feet (2 meters) of space between beachgoers, except family members or couples, and prohibit groups of 10 or more from congregating on the beach.

In Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan reopened state beaches for walking and exercise, but cautioned that it is critical to continue to follow public health guidance, practice social distancing and stay safe. He also let shore towns decide whether to reopen beaches and the resort town of Ocean City, Maryland, reopened to the general public with social distancing and gathering limitations in place and lifeguards on duty for swimming.



Meanwhile, in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced beaches would be allowed to open in time for the Memorial Day weekend, as did Delaware Gov. John Carney.

In other Pennsylvania pandemic developments:

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CASES

Pennsylvania’s death toll from the COVID-19 outbreak has passed 4,500 and about 63,000 people have been infected, the state Health Department said Monday.

Officials added 87 deaths to the tally, after 61 were announced Saturday and 15 on Sunday. More than 3,000 deaths from the coronavirus pandemic in Pennsylvania have been residents of nursing homes or personal care facilities.

Gov. Tom Wolf has begun relaxing social distancing and business closure guidelines, with more than half of the state’s 67 counties currently in the “yellow” zone that permits some businesses to operate. Twelve more counties are scheduled to be reclassified as yellow on Friday.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher than the state’s confirmed case count because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected without feeling sick. There is no data on how many people have fully recovered.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up in a couple of weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems are at higher risk of more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.

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ATV TRAILS OPEN EARLY

Trails through Pennsylvania state forests that all-terrain vehicles can use will be opening a bit early this year to limit crowds during the first-day rush.

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources said the trails will open on Tuesday, three days earlier than normal.

The agency also announced that Tuesday will be opening day for motorcycle trails in Bald Eagle State Forest.

All-terrain vehicles can use state forest trails within 11 designated systems but are not allowed on state forest roads or in state parks and game lands.

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POCONOS SAFETY

More than 150 businesses in the Pocono Mountains tourism zone are making a public pledge to abide by cleaning and social distancing guidelines as they reopen after the monthslong shutdown.

The Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau said Monday that the vow includes surveying staff for health problems when they start a work shift, training and the use of personal protective gear.

Some of the restrictions will be loosened on Friday in Wayne and Carbon counties, which are scheduled to move to the “yellow” phase and permit more business openings. Pike and Monroe counties, however, remain in the more restrictive red phase.

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