Governor Wolf: 24 PA counties to reopen

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WTAJ) – In a Friday release from the Office of Governor Wolf, it was announced that 24 counties in the northwest and north-central regions of the state would begin to reopen, moving them from red to yellow beginning at 12:01 a.m., Friday, May 8.

Counties Moving to Yellow Reopening
The 24 counties that will move from red to yellow on May 8 are Bradford, Cameron, Centre, Clarion, Clearfield, Clinton, Crawford, Elk, Erie, Forest, Jefferson, Lawrence, Lycoming, McKean, Mercer, Montour, Northumberland, Potter, Snyder, Sullivan, Tioga, Union, Venango, and Warren.

“Over the past two months, Pennsylvanians in every corner of our commonwealth have acted collectively to stop the spread of COVID-19,” Gov. Wolf said. “We have seen our new case numbers stabilize statewide and while we still have areas where outbreaks are occurring, we also have many areas that have few or no new cases.”

These counties were deemed ready to move to a reopening – or yellow phase – because of low per-capita case counts, the ability to conduct contact tracing and testing, and appropriate population density to contain community spread.

All reopening decisions follow the six standards outlined in the governor’s plan to reopen Pennsylvania. These include adhering to:

  • Data-driven and quantifiable criteria to drive a targeted, evidence-based, regional approach to reopening.
  • Clear guidance and recommendations for employers, individuals, and health care facilities and providers for assured accountability.
  • Adequate and available personal protective equipment and diagnostic testing.
  • A monitoring and surveillance program that allows the commonwealth to deploy swift actions for containment or mitigation.
  • Protections for vulnerable populations such as limitations on visitors to congregate care facilities and prisons.
  • Limitations on large gatherings unrelated to occupations.

“Our goal since this pandemic was first identified in Pennsylvania has been to save lives while ensuring that the public health system does not become overwhelmed with people suffering from COVID-19,” Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said. “Our contact tracing and testing plans will ensure that as we begin to resume our daily activities, we can do so safely and without fear.”

Defining the Yellow Phase
As regions or counties move into the yellow phase, some restrictions on work and social interaction will ease while others, such as closures of schools, gyms, and other indoor recreation centers, hair and nail salons, as well as limitations around large gatherings, remain in place.

On Monday, May 4, the administration will release guidance for businesses permitted to reopen on May 8 in these 24 counties. The guidance is being developed through collaboration with the affected counties, Team PA, the Department of Health, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Community and Economic Development, and the Department of Labor & Industry, among others. Guidance will build on existing safety and building safety orders released in April.

Work & Congregate Setting Restrictions

  • Telework Must Continue Where Feasible
  • Businesses with In-Person Operations Must Follow Business and Building Safety Orders
  • Child Care Open Complying with Guidance
  • Congregate Care and Prison Restrictions in Place
  • Schools Remain Closed for In-Person Instruction

Social Restrictions

  • Stay at Home Order Lifted for Aggressive Mitigation
  • Large Gatherings of More than 25 Prohibited
  • In-Person Retail Allowable, Curbside and Delivery Preferable
  • Indoor Recreation, Health and Wellness Facilities and Personal Care Services (such as gyms, spas, hair salons, nail salons and other entities that provide massage therapy), and all Entertainment (such as casinos, theaters) Remain Closed
  • Restaurants and Bars Limited to Carry-Out and Delivery Only

All businesses not specifically mentioned as restricted from reopening may reopen if they follow the forthcoming guidance.

Counties that will remain under the stay-at-home order will be considered for reopening in the next several weeks as the state continues to closely monitor metrics and collaborate with CMU, health experts and counties.

The full reopening plan is available here.

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