Updates from Dr. Rachel Levine
Pennsylvania's Secretary of Health addresses Yellow phase precautions in her daily address
PA Secretary of Health, Dr. Rachel Levine reported that statewide, there were 825 additional positive cases, for a total of 50,092 total cases. So far, there have been 2,458 deaths statewide, and 195,498 patients who have tested negative to date. There have been 3,084 cases in healthcare workers, and 9,345 cases in residents in 494 different long-term care living facilities.
In the state, 2,689 patients are currently hospitalized due to COVID-19, 553 of those requiring the use of a ventilator, accounting for approximately 25% of available devices.
In the Yellow phase, which Erie County moves to on Friday, May 8, workers and customers are still strongly recommended to follow masking procedures, though not technically required. Levine clarified that "it's a strong recommendation. The Governor has said all along that he feels that Pennsylvanians want to and will do the right thing. In the Yellow zones, the right thing to do is to continue to practice social distancing and to continue to wear a mask when you're in public." She continued to that "we are strongly requesting that individuals who work in retail wear masks and that those customers that are going into those stores wear masks.
For counties in the Yellow phase looking to move forward to the Green phase, Levine advised:
"The real important thing is to prevent the community spread and transmission of COVID-19. The way people do that is to still stay at home as much as possible, but in the Yellow zones there are more liberal interpretations of that, so you can go out to stores and people can go to work. We are still asking that people telecommute as much as possible. We are still asking that if people are getting goods that they need that they either order it online, or if they're going to a store, that there's curbside pickup. But if that's not possible, we want people to wear masks – both the staff in the store and the customers. We certainly want people to continue all the efforts that I discuss every day in terms of handwashing and not touching surfaces. All of those daily reminders. So if we all do all of that, areas and counties will be able to go from Yellow to Green."
Levine clarified that there is no specific timeline for when counties will move into the next phase, and that the state would follow data in a similar manner as they have been doing, using the Carnegie Mellon Risk-Based Decision Support Tool.
During her press conference, Levine was also asked to address the transphobic people who have made negative remarks over the course of her speeches. She stated that "I realize at times like this it's very stressful, people sometimes say things that they wouldn't otherwise say or mean, but really what I'm going to do is stay laser-focused on helping Pennsylvania through this global pandemic and assisting the Governor and the Governor's office."
Levine also noted that in the Yellow zone, drive-in theatres can open, and stated that if events such as graduation ceremonies or religious services occurred there, that would be permitted while still following social distancing practices.