PENNSYLVANIA, USA — Another 2.6 million people across western Pennsylvania are emerging from lockdown Friday as Gov. Tom Wolf announced that 12 more counties will soon join them in a partial easing of pandemic restrictions.
Wolf said that effective May 22, Adams, Beaver, Carbon, Columbia, Cumberland, Juniata, Mifflin, Perry, Susquehanna, Wyoming, Wayne and York will be the next batch of counties moving to the “yellow” phase of his reopening plan.
That means the governor's stay-at-home orders are lifted and retailers and other types of businesses may reopen.
They'll join residents of 13 lightly impacted counties - including the cities of Pittsburgh, Johnstown and Altoona - where Wolf lifted his stay-at-home orders on Friday and gave permission for retailers and other types of businesses to reopen. Twenty-four counties across northern Pennsylvania were the first to see a partial reopening last week.
All told, by the end of next week, more than 40% of Pennsylvania's population will have seen an easing of pandemic restrictions that were intended to prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients.
Here is the full press release from the Governor's Office:
Governor Tom Wolf announced 12 additional Pennsylvania counties will move to the yellow phase of reopening at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, May 22. Those counties include Adams, Beaver, Carbon, Columbia, Cumberland, Juniata, Mifflin, Perry, Susquehanna, Wyoming, Wayne, and York. Twenty-four counties moved into the yellow phase of reopening on May 8 and another 13 moved to yellow beginning today.
With these additional 12 counties, there will be a total of 49 counties in the yellow phase. The remaining 18 counties are in the red phase.
“Through our social distancing efforts, we have not only reversed a trajectory of exponential new case growth – we have cut it in half,” Gov. Wolf said. “And some of the counties that will be shifting into the yellow phase next week eliminated concerns that we had just two weeks ago. So please, keep up your efforts in the fight so we can continue to add counties to the list of those in the yellow phase. Thank you again for your patience and your hard work.”
Yesterday, Governor Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine amended their yellow phase orders to include 13 counties that moved to the yellow phase today. Those counties include Allegheny, Armstrong, Bedford, Blair, Butler, Cambria, Fayette, Fulton, Greene, Indiana, Somerset, Washington, and Westmoreland.
Red phase stay-at-home orders remain in effect until June 4 but that does not mean that other counties will not move to the yellow phase in advance of that date.
The reopening plan prioritizes the health and welfare of Pennsylvanians by using a combination of factors to gauge how much movement a location can tolerate before the 2019 novel coronavirus becomes a threat, including metrics developed in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh that will be released twice each week.
Wolf stressed that this plan is not a one-way route. The state is closely monitoring the counties in the yellow phase and will re-impose restrictions if danger arises. If the new case count begins to climb in one area, restrictions will need to be imposed to prevent local medical facilities from becoming overwhelmed. So, Pennsylvanians should continue to make good choices.