HARRISBURG >> Eight more counties moved into the green phase of the Governor's COVID-19 reopening plan on June 19: Dauphin, Franklin, Huntingdon, Luzerne, Monroe, Perry, Pike, and Schuylkill.
Moving to green on June 26 are: Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Erie, Lancaster, Lackawanna, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia and Susquehanna, according to Governor Tom Wolf.
Philadelphia County met the criteria and will move to the state’s green phase on June 26; however, local officials will maintain some additional restrictions until July 3. The Wolf Administration has supported specific county requests for more restrictions throughout the phased reopening process.
“When these 12 counties move on June 26, we will have nearly every county in green,” Gov. Wolf said. “It’s a testament to the many residents and businesses that have sacrificed over the past three months to stay home and adhere to the guidance the state has provided to protect lives and livelihoods. As we begin to reopen, I urge everyone to stay alert and continue to follow social distancing to maintain the momentum of mitigation we have in place.”
The only county in Pennsylvania remaining in yellow and not moving into the green phase is Lebanon County, which reopened in May against the Governor's orders. It is also the home of State Rep. Russ Diamond, the prime sponsor of legislation challenging the Governor's restrictions.
The Governor's office says the decision was based on an "uptick" in cases in the county.
“Lebanon County’s partisan, politically-driven decision to ignore public health experts and reopen prematurely is having severe consequences for the health and safety of county residents,” the state's secretary of health Dr. Rachel Levine said in a statement. “Case counts have escalated and the county is not yet ready to be reopened. Lebanon County has hindered its progress by reopening too early. Because of this irresponsible decision, Lebanon County residents are at greater risk of contracting COVID-19.”
The press statement did not specifiy the number of new cases in the county, which has a population of just under 150,000 and is bordered by Berks, Dauphin, Lancaster and Schuylkill counties.
According to PennLive, Lebanon County has had more than 1,200 people contract the virus with 40 deaths.
By comparison, Bucks County with a population of more than 600,000, has reported 499 deaths and more than 5,000 positive cases.
On June 18, Bucks recorded 19 new COVID-19 cases, two delayed-report cases that no longer are infectious, and three additional deaths.
Of the 21 cases added, 10 were infections spread by household contacts, four were attributed to pure community spread, one is a resident of a long-term care facility, one was infected in a healthcare setting, one was from an out-of-state exposure, and four were unable to be interviewed immediately.
Two of the three COVID-infected people who died were residents of long-term care facilities and had underlying health conditions.
Seventy-nine Bucks County coronavirus patients are hospitalized, 14 of whom are in critical condition and on ventilators.
A total of 5,187 Bucks County residents have now tested positive for coronavirus, more than half of whom – 2,752 people – have now been confirmed to have recovered. A total of 499 deaths have been attributed to COVID, 401 of them residents of long-term care facilities.
“We’re very excited for all businesses to finally open Friday; it’s been a long road for many of them,” said Dr. David Damsker, director of the Bucks County Health Department. “Our citizens have done a terrific job of being mindful of the precautions needed to keep community spread of COVID low, and we need them to continue doing so in the green phase.”
As counties reopen, Pennsylvania continues to see a steady decline in cases, according to the Wolf Administration.
The CDC’s analysis of propriety state case data puts Pennsylvania among only three states with a 42-day steady decline in cases. The other two states are Hawaii and Montana.
“By participating in small actions recommended by the CDC and the Pennsylvania Department of Health, we can continue to break transmission links even while we resume our daily activities,” Gov. Wolf said. “Things like washing hands, bringing our own water to sports practice and, of course, wearing masks.”
According to peer-reviewed studies in the New England Journal of Medicine and a recent study from Cambridge and Greenwich universities, "mask-wearing prevents people from unknowingly giving COVID-19 to others and can be critical as we prepare for a possible resurgence of the virus in the fall.
Moving into the green phase will enable previously-closed businesses such as hair and nail salons, health and wellness centers, casinos and theaters to open at 50 percent occupancy. Gatherings of up to 250 people will be allowed with the appropriate social distancing, restaurants and bars can open their inside facilities to 50 percent occupancy, and businesses that previously operated at 50 percent occupancy under yellow may increase to 75 percent.
Work and Congregate Settings Restrictions
- Continued Telework Strongly Encouraged
- Businesses with In-Person Operations Must Follow Updated Business and Building Safety Requirements
- All Businesses Operating at 50% Occupancy in the Yellow Phase May Increase to 75 percent Occupancy
- Child Care May Open Complying with Guidance
- Congregate Care Restrictions in Place
- Prison and Hospital Restrictions Determined by Individual Facilities
- Schools Subject to CDC and Commonwealth Guidance
- Large Gatherings of More Than 250 Prohibited
- Masks Are Required When Entering a Business
- Restaurants and Bars Open at 50 percent Occupancy
- Personal Care Services (including hair salons and barbershops) Open at 50 percent Occupancy and by Appointment Only
- Indoor Recreation, Health and Wellness Facilities, and Personal Care Services (such as gyms and spas) Open at 50 percent Occupancy with Appointments Strongly Encouraged
- All Entertainment (such as casinos, theaters, and shopping malls) Open at 50% Occupancy
- Construction Activity May Return to Full Capacity with Continued Implementation of Protocols