DOYLESTOWN >> With restrictions being relaxed as Bucks County enters the green phase of Governor Wolf’s COVID-19 reopening plan on June 26, county officials on Thursday reminded residents that “green doesn’t mean gone.”
“Green isn’t normal. Green isn’t back to life pre-Covid,” said Commissioner Bob Harvie. “The virus is still present. There are still people, because of their age or other health issues, who are at more risk than others are. We have to be mindful of that.”
According to Dr. David Damsker, the county’s health department director, what’s important is that everyone continues to do the things they’ve been doing throughout the yellow phase to keep themselves safe and healthy.
“We can live our lives, but continue doing the same things we’ve been talking about: sanitizing, masking. Those things haven’t gone away as much as we want them to. You can see what’s going on in other states. The virus is still in the community.
“The nice thing is that all the businesses are open now, even though they are under restrictions,” said Damsker. “So let’s go out and do what we need to do. Get your hair cut tomorrow. If you need to go to the gym tomorrow, have at it. They will be operating under new guidelines that you will have to follow. And we expect everyone to follow them and help those businesses enforce those guidelines.”
According to Damsker, overall cases in Bucks County as well as its 14 day case count are down.
“We have hit a plateau where we don’t believe we will go much lower than where we are today,” he said.
With that said, Damsker said there is still virus in the community. “And our main focus is to keep it from rising above those numbers and keeping it from pure community spread as much as possible.”
With the virus spiking in other states, in the south and west, Damsker recommends people traveling out of county to continue to do what’s been working here – social distancing, wearing masks and frequent sanitizing.
“It doesn’t matter where you are, the coronavirus is out there,” he said. “It’s not just Bucks County that you have to be concerned about.”
If cases here begin to spike again, Damsker said he doubts the county would revert back to the yellow or red phases.
“We’ll be looking for the pure community spread,” he said. “If we start getting more and more people we have no idea where it’s from, that’s where we will start to get a little more concerned,” said Damsker. “We’ll keep following our contact tracing and doing as much as we can.”
Specifically, the health department said it will be closely watching restaurants and bars, both of which the county regulates, to make sure guidance is being followed to keep their employees and the public safe.
“The salons, gyms and the restaurants have been through a lot. They’ve been closed for a long time. We want them to thrive. We want them to succeed. But they need to follow the rules,” he said.
For example, no one should be served at a bar while standing. “That’s how you get real crowding and shoulder-to-shoulder,” said Damsker. “We want them to have no more than groups of four in the bar area separated by social distancing. And we want people to avoid large crowds. When people drink, even just a little alcohol stops you from paying attention to your surroundings.
“But we want the bars to succeed,” he said. “So we will be doing education. We’ll be sending our staff out on nights and weekends. We will be focusing on restaurants with bars as well as bars themselves to make sure they are cooperating with us,” he said. “If they want to remain open, just follow the simple guidelines. We’re not saying it’s going to be easy. It’s a little different from what they are used to.
“And we ask the public that if you’re going to bars and restaurants, please follow the guidelines. It makes it much easier for them.
“We want to stay in green, hopefully until the next step when we’re in no color, but I don’t believe that will happen for quite a while,” said Damsker.