Levine Says Court Ruling Doesn't End COVID-19 Orders

HARRISBURG, Pa (Newsradio 1020 KDKA) - The Department of Health on Tuesday said the recent court ruling doesn't end the current COVID-19 mitigation orders in place.

“The orders that the governor and I put in place on mask-wearing, mandatory telework, worker safety, building safety and hospital safety are all still in effect to protect Pennsylvanians, especially our frontline workers,” Dr. Levine said. “These existing – and still valid – orders were put in place in the absence of any federal leadership at a time when life-saving decisions needed to be made. Saving lives has been the cornerstone of all of our decisions, including the orders referenced in the case that have since expired.

“We must do the right thing and continue to social distance, contain, and mitigate this virus – all vital public health actions that are accepted worldwide to prevent the spread of disease.

“As the public health agency for the commonwealth, we have a responsibility to advise the public on how to protect themselves and their loved ones from this virus. That has been our charge since before the first cases were reported in Pennsylvania and it will continue to be our charge until there is a vaccine for COVID-19, regardless of court rulings that may seek to downplay the validity of our role or actions.”

On Monday, a federal judge declared the COVID-19 restrictions set in place by Wolf and Levine unconstitutional.

The Honorable William Stickman the 4th, District Judge, U.S. District Court, Western District of Pennsylvania, issued the judgement Monday, stating that the orders violated components of the first and fourteenth amendments. 

Earlier this year, the administration imposed stay-at-home orders for Pennsylvanians and put into place restrictions that forced non-life-sustaining businesses to close. Since then, many of those restrictions have been lifted, however new restrictions that affect the restaurant industry and the gathering of people were put into place.

Governor Wolf responded to the ruling in a statement released on Tuesday saying, in part, "There’s no sense debating a ruling that will be appealed. Two of three federal judges upheld what we did.

“But what’s not up for debate is that our early and decisive action saved lives. While the federal government dithered, Pennsylvania took action. Our hospitals were never overwhelmed and research tells us thousands of lives were saved."