DOYLESTOWN - Bucks County is ready for the green phase of the Governor’s COVID-19 reopening plan, Bucks County Department of HealthDirector Dr. David Damsker said on Thursday.
During an online press conference, Damsker said Bucks County has hit all the marks to be eligible for green. The county transitioned to yellow on June 5.
“We are ready to move to green as soon as the Governor lets us, hopefully as early next Friday or maybe the Friday after that. We do have the infrastructure to move forward in the green," said Damsker. "And that’s thanks to the staff here at the health department, our emergency management and our residents who have helped us do this.”
Green is the third phase of the Governor’s reopening plan and would ease most restrictions still in place across the county under the Governor’s executive orders.
Damsker said the county is at a baseline number now with new cases being reported. “I believe we will probably see the same numbers today, tomorrow and the next day for many weeks to come until we have a vaccine or we’re lucky enough to snuff the virus out totally based on social distancing.”
As of June 12, there are 46 counties in green and 21 in yellow, including Bucks County.
The purpose of the yellow phase is to begin to power back up the economy while keeping a close eye on the public health data to ensure the spread of disease remains contained to the greatest extent possible.
The green phase eases most restrictions by lifting the stay-at-home and business closure orders to allow the economy to strategically reopen while continuing to prioritize public health. Some restrictions, such as mask-wearing, do remain in place.
As counties reopen, Pennsylvania continues to see a steady decline in cases, a positive indicator that its phased, measured reopening plan is working to balance public health with economic recovery.
According to analysis by the New York Times, new COVID-19 cases are declining in less than half of all U.S. states and territories.
“In Pennsylvania, not only did we flatten the curve, but we are continuing to keep case counts down even as we open our commonwealth,” Gov. Tom Wolf said. “We will continue to take a measured, phased approach to reopening that relies on science and health experts.”
On June 10, 18 cases and four deaths were reported by the Bucks County Health Department. Three of the cases were delayed reports that no longer are infectious.
Of the remaining 15, four were attributed to community spread, three are residents or workers at long-term care facilities, three were infected at work, two were from household contacts, one occurred in a healthcare setting and one is a prison inmate. Four have not been interviewed yet.
All four of the people with COVID-19 who died were residents of long-term care facilities with underlying health conditions. They ranged in age from 86 to 96, and three of the deaths occurred in May.
Bucks County has had 5,047 residents test positive for the coronavirus since the pandemic began, 482 of whom have died and 2,152 of whom are confirmed to have recovered.
Eighty-two Bucks County patients are hospitalized, 16 of them in critical condition and on ventilators.
“We have been ready and we are ready to move now,” said Diane Ellis-Marseglia, the chair of the Bucks County Commissioners. “We’re trying to have a cooperative relationship with the state. But I’m thrilled with the work Dr. Damsker and his health department has done for us. They have taken such a great lead with contact tracing and handling this county. We are so grateful that we have the kind of marks that we do right now.”
Under the green phase:
- telework is strongly encouraged, in-person business operations must follow the COVID-19 Business Guidance,
- All businesses operating at 50 percent occupancy in the yellow phase may increase to 75 percent occupancy under green;
- Child care may open complying with guidance and schools are subject to CDC and Commonwealth guidance;
- Large gatherings are limited to no more than 250;
- Restaurants and bars may open at 50 percent occupancy with continued implementation of the Restaurant Industry Guidance;
- Personal care services (including hair salons and barbershops) are allowed to open at 50 percent occupancy by appointment only;
- Indoor recreation, health and wellness facilities, and personal care services (such as gyms, salons and spas) may open at 50 percent occupancy with appointments strongly encouraged;
- All entertainment (such as casinos, theaters, and shopping malls) can open at 50 percent occupancy; and
- Construction activity may return to full capacity with continued implementation of the Construction Guidance.