All Pennsylvania counties will enter the “green” phase of reopening next week, with one notable exception—Lebanon County.
Gov. Tom Wolf today said that 13 of the remaining 14 “yellow” counties will move to green on Friday, June 26. These include Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Erie, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia and Susquehanna counties.
Philadelphia County, which has been hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, will move to green on June 26, but will retain some additional restrictions until July 3 at the request of county officials, according to Wolf’s office.
Then there’s Lebanon County.
Late last month, by a 2-1, party-line vote, Lebanon County commissioners declared their county to be in the “green” reopening phase without the approval of the state Department of Health.
According to Wolf’s office, the county since has seen 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,” said health department Secretary Rachel Levine, 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.”
According to the state, Lebanon County has failed to meet two of the state’s four requirements for entering the less restrictive green phase. For instance, it has not shown two weeks of sustained, decreasing new case counts, as per the state’s “county dashboard.”
Today, Lebanon County reported 16 new COVID-19 cases, and yesterday, just 10.
“When these 12 counties move on June 26, we will have nearly every county in green,” 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.”