Restaurants and bars are also ordered to suspend alcohol sales from 5 p.m. Wednesday to 8 a.m. Thursday to curb the virus' spread during the "biggest day for drinking."By Meghan Schiller

HARRISBURG (KDKA) – The Wolf administration Monday announced new coronavirus mitigation efforts as modeling projects 22,000 daily coronavirus cases in the state come December.

Gov. Tom Wolf pointed to modeling projecting Pennsylvania will run out of ICU beds in December if no action is taken.

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The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation is projecting 22,000 new coronavirus cases per day in the state and more than 32,000 deaths by Feb. 23. That death toll, the governor’s office says, could be cut in half with universal mask-wearing.

Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said among the new mitigation measures are “targeted protections for businesses and gatherings,” an advisory for Pennsylvanians to stay at home and enforcements on public health orders like the recently strengthened mask mandate.

Restaurants and bars are ordered to suspend alcohol sales from 5 p.m. Wednesday to 8 a.m. Thursday. Gov. Wolf says the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is the “biggest day for drinking” and acknowledged bars and restaurants have been hit hard by the pandemic, but this one-night ban on liquor sales at establishments is needed.

“The thing that we can’t do is ignore reality and say ‘yeah you folks, for no fault of your own, have been hit hardest by this virus.’ But the virus is what’s doing this. It’s not me. It’s not the administration. It’s not the government,” said Gov. Wolf.

It was empty inside William Penn Tavern Monday, and bar owner Richard Rattner feels empty too.

“You wake up Monday morning, you got something to look forward to finally as a bar and restaurant owner and the carpet gets pulled out right from underneath you,” he said.

Rattner asks: why are liquor stores still open?

“It’s going to be a big private party night. And I don’t think people are going to stay home. Like they feel because of this order, I think they’re just going to push them into unsafe predicaments,” he said.

Bob McCafferty owns North Country Brewing.

“If we’re allowed to just do our distancing and no bar sales anyway, what is the difference between people sitting at a table with food in front of them as we are instructed to do right now?” McCafferty said.

His outdoor dining spot chilled over, and he keeps hoping things will change.

“And then we get mandate after mandate and you know we really don’t see any reason for being attacked like this,” he said.

Also among Monday’s virus mitigation efforts is a stay-at-home advisory, and Dr. Levine says people shouldn’t gather with others outside their household.

Gathering limits have also been reduced, with the state’s calculator for indoor and outdoor event occupancy updated. The gathering limits are now 500 indoors and 2,500 outdoors.

“Orders already in place and those announced today will be enforced, and law enforcement and state agencies will be stepping up enforcement efforts, issuing citations and fines and possible regulatory actions for repeat offenders,” says Dr. Levine.

“It has to be our collective responsibility to protect our communities, our healthcare workers and our most vulnerable Pennsylvanians from COVID-19.”

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Enforcement will be focused on several areas, including out-of-state travel, mask-wearing and gathering limits.

The Wolf administration is now also requiring Pre-K to 12 public schools in counties with substantial transmission for at least two consecutive weeks to commit to safety measures. If they don’t, they have to go fully online without extra-curricular activities.

According to the state’s COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring Dashboard, for the week of Nov. 13-19 the state reported over 36,000 cases and a percent positivity of 11.1%, which is up from the previous week’s 9.6%. In the past week, the number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 has quadrupled.

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The state issued targeted mitigation efforts last week, tightening the mask mandate and requiring people coming from out of state to Pennsylvania to either test negative 72 hours prior or quarantine for 14 days.

Meghan Schiller