Most of the Harrisburg area will enter the less-restrictive “yellow” phase of the state’s reopening plan next week, as Dauphin and Lebanon counties are slated make the move on May 29.
PA Gov. Tom Wolf announced late today that these counties are among eight that will transition to the yellow phase next Friday, May 29. The others are Franklin, Huntingdon, Luzerne, Monroe, Pike and Schuylkill counties.
“I want to thank all Pennsylvanians who have made tremendous sacrifices since this virus emerged in Pennsylvania,” Wolf said. “I want to remember and honor all of those who we lost, and I want to give solace to their families and loved ones. The last two months have been trying, and they have tested each of us.”
Wolf credited the policies of the state government for helping to cut the number of new cases of COVID-19 in the commonwealth. Cases peaked in early April at around 2,000 new cases a day and gradually have fallen to fewer than 1,000 new cases a day.
“We know not only that we succeeded in slowing case growth, but that our actions, our collective decisions to stay at home and avoid social contact–we know that saved lives,” Wolf said. “My stay-at-home order did exactly what it was intended to do: It saved lives and it bought us valuable time.”
Most of the rest of south-central PA moved into the yellow category today, including Cumberland, Perry, Adams and York counties, leaving only Lancaster County locally in the red phase.
Wolf said today that he expects the rest of the state, including the hard-hit Philadelphia metro area, to move to the yellow category on June 5.
The state government uses a tri-color red/yellow/green system to guide re-openings in the commonwealth.
Under the red phase, people are supposed to observe strict “stay-at-home” orders, and “non life sustaining” businesses cannot operate from their physical locations. Under yellow, these restrictions are eased, but limits remain in place. For instance, schools must remain closed, bars and restaurants are stilled banned from offering sit-down dining, and gatherings of more than 25 people are prohibited (see chart).
Wolf today also announced that a large swath of PA will enter the least-restrictive “green” phase on May 29. These 17 counties are mostly in the rural northwest and north-central parts of the state and were among the first to move into the yellow phase on May 8. They have continued to show low levels of COVID-19 cases.
Under green, most restrictions are lifted, though the state has yet to issue detailed guidance for business operations in green zones.
Around the midstate, Dauphin, Lebanon and Lancaster counties have shown the greatest per-capita cases of COVID-19, though case numbers have been decreasing recently relative to the number of tests, which has been increasing. Also, many of the new cases have occurred in nursing homes and other long-term care settings.
In related news, the state Department of Health today said that it would close its northeast drive-in testing site at the Mohegan Sun Pocono Arena on May 29. Most of the counties in the northeast have already or will transition to the yellow phase soon.
According to the state, 2,048 people have been tested at the site to date, with about 7 percent testing positive for COVID-19.
“We are very pleased with the success of the site and that we were able to provide necessary testing to citizens of northeast Pennsylvania,” department Secretary Rachel Levine said. “However, it is time we redirect these resources to other areas of our state that are in need of assistance in this pandemic.”