Pitt reviewing state’s new COVID-19 mitigation orders

By Rebecca Johnson, News Editor

Pitt’s Healthcare Advisory Group will review the state’s new COVID-19 mitigation orders and make recommendations to the University’s senior administration if necessary, according to University spokesperson Kevin Zwick. 

Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine announced a number of temporary mitigation orders for the next three weeks at a Thursday evening press conference. The orders will take effect at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday and last until 8 a.m. on Jan. 4. 

The new measures include:

  • Capping indoor gatherings at 10 people
  • Capping outdoor gatherings at 50 people
  • Reducing in-person businesses to 50% capacity
  • Closing indoor gyms and fitness facilities
  • Closing businesses in the entertainment industry such as theaters, concert venues, museums, movie theaters, arcades, casinos, bowling alleys and private clubs
  • Suspending in-person extracurricular school activities
  • Suspending K-12 school sports
  • Professional and collegiate sports may continue, but spectators are banned

The COVID-19 Medical Response Office said Thursday afternoon that it won’t release more travel guidance to students about the start of the spring semester until at least Jan. 4 — the day the temporary state restrictions are set to expire. But regardless of where students are located, the first day of classes will remain Tuesday, Jan. 19.

Zwick said the CMRO is monitoring the virus conditions and public health recommendations before the start of the semester. He added that Pitt is encouraging students, faculty and staff to practice proper mitigation measures like wearing a mask and socially distancing to slow the spread of the virus. 

“The COVID-19 Medical Response Office is waiting until after Jan. 4 to monitor the condition of the virus at that time, as well as any additional public health and travel guidance,” Zwick said. “We continue to encourage our students, faculty and staff to do their part to help prevent the spread of infection, wherever they are.”

These measures follow rising case numbers locally and statewide leading into the holiday season. Allegheny County reported 1,166 new COVID-19 cases Thursday amid a record number of deaths statewide attributed to the coronavirus.

Pitt added 20 new COVID-19 cases, composed of 10 students and 10 employees, between last Thursday and Monday, with 10 students currently in isolation. The University has had 757 students and 96 employees test positive since June 26, with 747 students and 70 employees recovered thus far.