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Lancaster County goes green on June 26, Lebanon County stays in yellow due to 'premature' reopening

Governor Tom Wolf will announce that 12 more counties will move from yellow to green on June 26, including Lancaster, Berks, and Montgomery.

PENNSYLVANIA, USA —

Parts of Pennsylvania that were among the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic will move next week into the less restrictive “green” zone for reopening businesses and restarting group activities, the Wolf administration announced Friday.

The 12 counties going from yellow to green under Gov. Tom Wolf's color-colored reopening system on June 26 include Philadelphia and its collar suburbs of Montgomery, Bucks, Chester and Delaware counties.

Other counties moving to green next week will be Lehigh and Northampton in the Lehigh Valley; Erie County, where local officials have pressed for looser restrictions; Lackawanna and Susquehanna counties in the northeast; and Berks and Lancaster.

The changes will encompass the cities of Allentown, Bethlehem, Erie, Scranton, Lancaster and Reading.

In the green zone, gyms, barbers and theaters can reopen at reduced capacity. Bars and restaurants may allow indoor dining, also at reduced capacity. Gatherings of up to 250 people are permitted in green zones.

RELATED: Gov. Wolf: Masks are required to enter any business in Pennsylvania, regardless of what phase of reopening their counties are in

RELATED: Dauphin, Franklin, and Perry Counties to move to green phase of reopening on June 19

Wolf, a Democrat, said local officials in Philadelphia will maintain some additional restrictions for an additional week, until July 3.

The only county left in the yellow zone is Lebanon County in central Pennsylvania. In a release, the Wolf administration blamed Republican county officials for voting to open about a month ago. A message was left seeking comment from the Lebanon County commissioners and the county administrator.

“Lebanon County commissioners voted 2 to 1 along party lines to prematurely reopen in late May," the administration's release said. “Now, the county is facing an uptick in cases, and is unable to move to green."

RELATED: Lebanon County restaurant fined $2,000 for operating while food service license is suspended

RELATED: Lebanon County Commissioners vote in favor of moving to yellow phase, defying Governor Wolf's order

The number of new infections has been rising in Lebanon County since late May, going from 88 new cases over the 14-day period ending May 28 to 213 new cases in the 14-day period ending Thursday.

A Republican state lawmaker from Lebanon, Rep. Russ Diamond, was prime sponsor of a resolution passed by both chambers earlier this month to end Wolf's shutdown. The state Supreme Court will decide whether that resolution carries any legal weight.

You can read the Governor's full press release here:

Governor Tom Wolf today announced that 12 more counties will move to the green phase of reopening from the COVID-19 pandemic at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, June 26. These counties include Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Erie, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia and Susquehanna.

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 not slated to move to green on June 26 is Lebanon County. Against the advice of public health experts and against orders from Gov. Wolf and Sec. of Health Dr. Rachel Levine aimed at keeping Pennsylvanians healthy, Lebanon County commissioners voted 2 to 1 along party lines to prematurely reopen in late May. Now, the county is facing an uptick in cases, and is unable to move to green.

“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,” Dr. Levine said. “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 data dashboard of county cases and criteria for reopening consideration can be found here.

Gov. Wolf’s Process to Reopen Pennsylvania outlines remaining restrictions for counties in yellow or green. Effective today, there are 54 counties in green and 13 in yellow.

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.

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.

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.

“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.

Yellow Phase
As of June 19, these 13 counties are in the yellow phase: Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Erie, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia, and Susquehanna.

Some restrictions on work and social interaction are eased in the yellow phase 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.

The purpose of this 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.

Work and Congregate Setting Restrictions

Social Restrictions

  • Stay-at-Home Order Lifted for Aggressive Mitigation
  • Large Gatherings of More than 25 Prohibited
  • Masks are Required When Entering a Business
  • 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 May Open Outdoor Dining, in Addition to Carry-Out and Delivery

Green Phase
As of June 19, these 54 counties are in the green phase: Adams, Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Bedford, Blair, Bradford, Butler, Cambria, Cameron, Carbon, Centre, Clarion, Clearfield, Clinton, Columbia, Crawford, Cumberland, Dauphin, Elk, Fayette, Forest, Franklin, Fulton, Greene, Huntingdon, Indiana, Juniata, Jefferson, Lawrence, Lycoming, Luzerne, McKean, Mercer, Mifflin, Monroe, Montour, Northumberland, Perry, Pike, Potter, Schuylkill, Snyder, Somerset, Sullivan, Tioga, Union, Venango, Warren, Washington, Wayne, Westmoreland, Wyoming, and York.

After a county transitions to the yellow phase, it is closely monitored for increased risk, such as significant outbreaks. If overall risk remains mitigated for 14 days, the county will transition to the green phase.

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.

It is important to continue to monitor public health indicators and adjust orders and restrictions as necessary to ensure the spread of disease remains at a minimum.

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% 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

Social Restrictions

  • Large Gatherings of More Than 250 Prohibited
  • Masks are Required When Entering a Business
  • Restaurants and Bars Open at 50% Occupancy
  • Personal Care Services (including hair salons and barbershops) Open at 50% Occupancy and by Appointment Only
  • Indoor Recreation, Health and Wellness Facilities, and Personal Care Services (such as gyms and spas) Open at 50% 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

The state continues to use risk-based metrics from Carnegie Mellon University and the Department of Health and Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency data dashboard available here.

The state continues to increase testing and ramp up contact-tracing efforts. As of June 18, there are a total of 518 contact tracers, and a total of 4,161 contacts being monitored.

The Department of Health received a total of 89,350 test results in the past seven days, an average of 12,764 a day. The 30-day average of test results received is more than 13,934.

There were 2,763 total cases added to investigations for the week of June 12 through 18.

The latest business guidance, including outdoor recreation guidance, can be found here.

Preliminary sports guidance can be found here.