Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Gov. Wolf outlines broad measures to guide economic reopening in PA

A screen capture of PA Gov. Tom Wolf (right) during his online speech today

Gov. Tom Wolf today set a general, six-point outline for reopening the state’s economy and allowing people to begin to return to work.

In an afternoon speech, he complimented state residents for staying resolute during the one-month general economic shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

He then said that his administration wanted to begin talking about when and how to reopen the state’s economy.

“We all want to get back to work. We all want businesses to reopen as quickly as possible,” he said. “The challenge is that we all want to keep people safe, and we are trying to steer the fine line between those two.”

According to Wolf’s outline, the decision over when and how to reopen businesses will rely on these six broad criteria:

  • Re-openings will be “data driven,” will be based upon “quantifiable criteria” and will be targeted and regional.
  • Before allowing businesses to reopen, the state will issue “guidance and recommendations” for employers and workers.
  • Reopening will necessitate the availability of “adequate personal protective equipment” and “diagnostic testing.”
  • Reopening will require a monitoring and surveillance program allowing the commonwealth to deploy “swift actions” for containment or mitigation.
  • Protections for vulnerable populations, especially at congregate care facilities and prisons, will remain in place throughout the reopening process.
  • Limitations on large gatherings unrelated to work will remain in place for the duration of the reopening process.

Wolf declined to give more specifics for these criteria, but said that he’d offer greater detail next week.

Wolf made the speech as the Republican-controlled state Senate this week passed a bill intended to allow more businesses to reopen. Moreover, an anti-shutdown rally is planned at the state Capitol on Monday.

In contrast, Wolf urged Pennsylvania residents to “stay the course,” saying that the state’s shutdown of “non life-sustaining” businesses and its stay-at-home requirements have successfully slowed transmission of COVID-19 and helped to “flatten the curve.”

Wolf also mentioned he wasn’t alarmed following a spike of newly diagnosed COVID-19 cases today. He attributed some of the new cases to greater testing and said that more results had come back from private labs following the Easter and Passover holidays.

The state Department of Health today reported 1,706 newly diagnosed positive cases in PA, the highest number in a week.

During her daily press conference, health Secretary Rachel Levine also attributed the higher case number to receiving more test results.

“We felt it was due to the holidays,” she said. “So, we’re starting to see more testing now.”

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