Sixteen more counties will move to the least-restrictive green phase next Friday, mostly in the western and southwestern parts of the commonwealth.
Gov. Tom Wolf made the announcement today during his first live, non-virtual press conference since the pandemic began in March.
These counties are Allegheny, Armstrong, Bedford, Blair, Butler, Cambria, Clinton, Fayette, Fulton, Greene, Indiana, Lycoming, Mercer, Somerset, Washington and Westmoreland counties.
In addition, all remaining red counties, including Lancaster County and the Philadelphia metropolitan area, will move into the yellow phase on Friday.
Today, Dauphin and Lebanon counties, along with several counties in the northeast part of the state, moved into the yellow phase, while most counties in the northwest and north-central parts moved into the green phase.
Pennsylvania uses a three-color system–red, yellow and green–to guide re-openings following the virtual shutdown of the state earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic. Each phase further peels back Wolf’s stay-at-home order and business closures and restrictions, which were imposed in March.
Wolf said that his administration made these loosening decisions based upon recommendations of “medical epidemiological experts.”
“The goal here is to make that every Pennsylvanian is confident that they’re going to be safe moving from one of these phases into the next,” he said.
Wolf also cited “progress” fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. New case numbers have been on a constant, if slow, decline for nearly two months, while testing has increased substantially.
As many as 13,000 new tests have been conducted daily recently, Wolf said, and new positive cases are now subject to contact tracing.
“Because of this, we’re able to take important steps to return to a sense of normalcy, again, as we remain careful and vigilant,” he said.
Moreover, he said that, while he believes that his stay-at-home order and business restrictions have worked to fight spread of the virus, “we can’t isolate ourselves forever.”
“It is important that we continue to act with caution especially as we reopen,” he said.