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2020 News

Wolf Announces Plan to Begin Re-Opening Pennsylvania

April 22, 2020

Contact: Larry R. King, 215-348-6413, lrking@buckscounty.org

Gov. Tom Wolf tonight announced more details of how Pennsylvania may gradually re-open from the ongoing shutdown that has required most Pennsylvanians to stay at home in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We will use a measured, scientific approach,” Wolf said. “We will not just be flipping a switch to go from closed to open.”

Portions of sparsely populated North Central and Northwest Pennsylvania are projected to be the first to start gradually shedding Wolf’s restrictions, with many retail stores permitted to reopen starting May 8. Wolf reopening

Wolf said that a region, or a county, will need to average fewer than 50 new positive cases of the virus per 100,000 residents for 14 days to qualify for the first reopening steps. There are many rural counties that have reported only a few total cases.

Even after those regions start to end their lockdowns, bans on large gatherings will remain, and businesses such as casinos, theaters, fitness centers and other indoor entertainment and recreational venues will remain shuttered.

Wolf’s plan includes three, color-coded phases:

  • A “red” phase, currently in effect statewide, with only life-sustaining businesses allowed to operate, and even then under restrictions. Schools and most child care are closed, people are ordered to stay home, and restaurants are limited to take-out only.
  • A “yellow” phase in which teleworking continues where feasible, in-person retail is allowed with curbside purchases and delivery preferred, childcare opens under building and worker safety orders, and businesses with in-person employees must operate under safety orders. Schools, eat-in restaurants and bars, and indoor recreation and entertainment remain closed, and large gatherings are prohibited.
  • A “green” phase in which aggressive mitigation efforts are lifted, and people and businesses must follow any guidelines laid out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Pennsylvania Department of Health. 

“And ultimately, COVID-19 will set the timeline,” Wolf said. He cautioned that business shut-downs and stay-at-home orders would resume if COVID-19 flares up in areas where restrictions have been relaxed.

Wolf set no projected dates or timetables for reopening other portions of the state, including Bucks County and the rest of Southeast Pennsylvania, where COVID-19 has hit the state the hardest. “If Southeast Pennsylvania continues to be a concern, reopening will be slower there than the places where the case counts have been low,” he said.

Wolf urged residents to continue following his restrictions, saying compliance had kept the coronavirus from causing the levels of illness and death seen in other areas and nations.

Despite the governor’s optimism, 58 new deaths were reported in Pennsylvania today, bringing the statewide total to 1,622. Of those, more than half have occurred at nursing homes or personal care facilities.

In Bucks County, the deaths of eight more people with COVID-19 were reported, most of them nursing home residents. The decedents were four women ages 93, 91, 83 and 71; and four men ages 90, 89, 80 and 59.

The county also reported 131 new positive cases, for a total of 2,197. Hospitalized are 184 patients, 24 of whom are in critical condition and on ventilators. A total of 493 have recovered and have been released from isolation.

Statistics, charts and other coronavirus-related information can be found on the county’s data portal: https://covid19-bucksgis.hub.arcgis.com