What to expect as Pa. starts to reopen from COVID-19 shutdown

Gov. Wolf outlines plan to reopen Pa. county by county

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Gov. Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine held their daily news conference Wednesday night and outlined the plan for reopening Pennsylvania in stages.

Wolf said the commonwealth is partnering with several organizations to model the spread of the virus, including Carnegie Mellon University.

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During the news conference, Wolf outlined the three stages of how Pennsylvania will handling reopening.

  • Red - This is where we currently are. Stay-at-home orders remain in place and only life-sustaining businesses are allowed to be open.

“The red phase, which currently applies to the whole state, has the sole purpose of minimizing the spread of COVID-19 through strict social distancing, non-life sustaining business and school closures, and building safety protocols,” according to the commonwealth’s plan.

  • Yellow - This stage will allow more businesses to open up following social distancing guidelines. Under this stage businesses where people gather will continue with current operations. This means restaurants will be limited to takeout.

“The purpose of [the yellow] phase is to begin to power back up the economy while keeping a close eye on the public health data to ensure the spread of disease remains contained to the greatest extent possible,” Wolf’s plan said.

  • Green - This stage will be the most open, with the stay-at-home order lifted and most businesses allowed to reopen. Wolf said that all businesses and individuals will still be required to follow CDC guidelines.

“The green phase eases most restrictions by lifting the stay-at-home and business closure orders to allow the economy to strategically reopen while continuing to prioritize public health. While this phase will facilitate a return to a ‘new normal,’ it will be equally important to continue to monitor public health indicators and adjust orders and restrictions as necessary to ensure the spread of disease remains at a minimum.”

Wolf said that before a region moves from red to yellow there will need to be an average of less than 50 cases per 100,000 individuals over the course of 14 days.

While some parts of the state where there has been limited spread of coronavirus, including the north-central and northwest regions, could move from red to yellow as soon as May 8, Wolf cautioned that that date could shift or areas that reopen could be closed again if there is a COVID-19 spike.

“We will not just be flipping a switch and going from closed to open,” Wolf said. “We might reopen some areas or businesses only to have them close again if the virus continues to resurge.”