wolf COVID-19 reopening plan yellow to start may 8

On May 1, 2020, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf released this map showing which counties would start the "yellow" phase of the state's reopening plan the following Friday, May 8. 

Lancaster County is not among the 24 Pennsylvania counties allowed to partially reopen their economies starting Friday, May 8.

The counties moving to partial reopening are in northern and northwestern Pennsylvania.

Gov. Tom Wolf said Friday that the counties moving from the red, or shutdown phase, to the yellow, or cautionary phase, were chosen because of low per-capita case counts of the highly infectious COVID-19 virus.

Those counties also have low population densities and are ready for stepped-up contact tracing to track down and quarantine those who do test positive, Wolf said.

The governor said it’s too soon to know when Lancaster and the 42 other counties that remain under the lockdown guidelines after May 8 will move to yellow.

The 24 counties moving to partial reopening are Bradford, Cameron, Centre, Clarion, Clearfield, Clinton, Crawford, Elk, Erie, Forest, Jefferson, Lawrence, Lycoming, McKean, Mercer, Montour, Northumberland, Potter, Snyder, Sullivan, Tioga, Union, Venango and Warren.

Lancaster County Commissioner Josh Parsons said he disagrees with the governor’s decision to not move Lancaster County to yellow.

“I think we could safely restart jobs today in Lancaster County,” Parsons said. “I would like more of that control to be at the county level.”

Parsons said he thinks hospital capacity to treat patients is a better metric than the number of cases in a county.

Lancaster County hospitals so far have not been overwhelmed by cases.

Lancaster County recorded 62 new coronavirus cases Thursday, leaving it far from achieving one of the state's key criteria: fewer than 50 new cases per 100,000 population over a 14-day period.

In Pennsylvania's yellow phase, some restrictions ease on work and social interactions, but many operations, including schools, theaters, gyms, beauty salons and barber shops, remain closed. Gatherings of more than 25 remain prohibited.

The governor is not moving any counties on May 8 to the green phase, which removes restrictions on businesses and social gatherings while keeping certain safety guidelines in place.

Social distancing, masks and other mitigation strategies remain in place during the yellow phase. If cases surge in a county in the yellow phase, the county will be moved back to the red phase, Wolf said. 

"Pennsylvanians living in a county that is entering the yellow phase should continue to do things like social distancing that will allow them to move forward into the green phase, not backwards into the red phase," Wolf said.

"And Pennsylvanians living in a county that is remaining red on May 8 should aspire to have the same success in social distancing to prevent new outbreaks," he said. "Your actions will guide our future."

Tom Wolf Editorial Board

Gov. Tom Wolf meets with the LNP Editorial Board in this file photo from April 2017.

Also Friday, Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said the Health Department will make testing “widely available” by partnering with pharmacies and federally qualified health centers, such as Lancaster Health Center. Long-term care facilities will be prioritized for resources.

Levine said the goal is to test 2% of the population every month.

“Every Pennsylvanian should feel proud of the work that we all did to flatten this curve,” Wolf said. “I am eager to see us continue to work together to achieve a swift and safe reopening on May 8 in 24 counties and in many more counties to come in the not-too-distant future.”

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