16 Counties Including Pittsburgh Area Set to Green While Erie Remains Yellow
Erie County not among counties Gov. Wolf announced to go green next Friday; school to resume in fall
The Office of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced that 16 additional counties will enter the Green Phase of reopening on Friday, June 5. Erie County will not be among them.
The to-be "green" counties will be largely concentrated in Western and Central Pennsylvania and include Allegheny, Armstrong, Bedford, Blair, Butler, Cambria, Clinton, Fayette, Fulton, Greene, Indiana, Lycoming, Mercer, Somerset, Washington, and Westmoreland. Much of the Greater Pittsburgh area will be encompassed in the transition. Meanwhile, the remaining Red Phase counties in Eastern Pennsylvania will move to Yellow Phase on that same date.
Darker green: Currently in Green phase
Lighter green: Set to move to Green phase June 5
Yellow: Currently in Yellow phase
Orange: Set to move to Yellow phase June 5
Due to the recent continuous uptick in positive cases, Erie County will remain a "yellow" island unto itself in the state's northwestern corner as health officials closely monitor developments. According to Gov. Wolf, the counties cleared for Green Phase were selected solely "based on the recommendations of medical and epidemiological experts," with risk-based metrics from Carnegie Mellon University, contact tracing and testing capabilities, and a sustained reduction in COVID-19 hospitalization as guiding factors.
To those ends, both Gov. Wolf and State Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine have noted marked improvement. Daily tests administered now routinely exceed 10,000 across 318 testing sites statewide, new positives are averaging in the 600s (as opposed to over 1,000), and more contact tracers are out and about to ensure that outbreaks are kept in check. As of 12 a.m. Friday, there were 693 new confirmed positives for a total of 70,735 in Pennsylvania, and 91 additional deaths for a combined 5,464.
"This is not a matter of me waving a magic wand or flicking a switch and saying we're gonna be open again," clarified Gov. Wolf. "It's a matter of how do we get people to feel comfortable and confident that they can go back to life as they want it to be in this new post-infectious disease world."
As the state progresses through its reopening, Gov. Wolf and Dr. Levine expressed these hopes:
- That people will "stay alert" during outings and have a plan for maintaining social distancing.
- That it will be as routine to leave the house with hand sanitizer and a mask as it is wallet and keys.
- That a rapid, accurate point-of-care test administered nasally or orally will be available in the coming months, with good sensitivity (fewer false negatives) and readings within 15-20 minutes.
- That "draconian" measures such as lockdown and shelter-in-place will not be required again due to expanded public health response capabilities, even in the event of a resurgence
- That next week's primary election counts are tabulated quickly, although delays are to be expected due to an unprecented volume of mail-in ballots.
One thing is for certain, however — that school will start on time in late August or early September, although it is guaranteed to look different. The Governor said to stay tuned for the Department of Education's official guidance to be released next week.