Gov. Tom Wolf announced Friday that 17 Pennsylvania counties will move from the "yellow" to the "green" phase of the state's coronavirus reopening plan, and that the 18 remaining "red" counties will move to "yellow" by June 5.
Most of the earliest counties that began to reopen have shown good progress. In fact, of the 37 counties that partially reopened by moving to yellow on May 8 and May 15, seven rural counties have had no new cases of coronavirus in the past 14 days, according to an LNP | LancasterOnline analysis of health department data.
They are Cameron, Forest, Jefferson, Montour, Potter, Tioga and Greene.
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Another 16 rural and western counties now in the yellow phase score at one-fifth or lower on Wolf’s key metric for moving from red to yellow: no more than 50 total new coronavirus cases per 100,000 population over 14 days.
Now that Gov. Tom Wolf announced the entire state will move to "yellow" on June 5, LNP | Lan…
That metric has made it challenging for the 18 remaining counties in lockdown to begin reopening, although some, including Lancaster, have defied the governor and declared their own move to the yellow phase. Those 18 counties, nearly all in the eastern part of the state, have more than half of Pennsylvania’s population.
But on Friday afternoon, Wolf announced that Lancaster and other southeast counties can move to yellow by June 5, saying that expanded testing and contract tracing has made the 50-cases-per-100,000 population metric "less critical" as a benchmark for a safe reopening.
"That was one of many statistics that we had," Wolf said at a news conference. " ... We have never used that metric exclusively."
Lancaster had 46 new coronavirus cases Friday and it’s score under Wolf’s metric stood at 114, or twice the level the governor has defined as safe for starting limited economic activity.
Wolf has previously made some exceptions to is requirement for a score of 50 or less.
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Of 12 counties that received Wolf’s approval last week to move from red to yellow on Friday, three had scores above the threshold. Cumberland County, just west of Harrisburg, scored at 62 Friday. Scores are 58 in Adams County and 54 in Columbia County.
Two other counties moved from red to yellow earlier while their scores were above 50. Lycoming County’s score was 54 when it reopened May 8, and its score was 55 today. Clinton reopened at 52, and its score was 28 on Friday.
Here are Friday’s scores for each of the 18 counties that remained under Wolf’s stay-at-home order Friday, and where they scored on Wolf’s metric of no more than 50 total new coronavirus cases per 100,000 population over 14 days.
They are listed from closest to meeting the requirement to farthest: