17 counties, including Snyder, set for ‘green’
Huntingdon scheduled to move to the yellow phase of reopening on May 29
From staff reports
HARRISBURG — Snyder County is among the first 17 that will transition into a green phase under the state’s COVID-19 emergency order.
Huntingdon county, the last in the immediate area still classified as red, will move to yellow with seven other counties.
The change will take place at 12:01 a.m. May 29. All remaining counties in red are expected to move to yellow by 12:01 a.m. June 5.
The 17 counties moving to green include Bradford, Cameron, Clarion, Clearfield, Crawford, Elk, Forest, Jefferson, Lawrence, McKean, Montour, Potter, Sullivan, Tioga, Venango and Warren.
The counties moving to yellow include Dauphin, Franklin, Lebanon, Luzerne, Monroe, Pike, and Schuylkill.
Still red are Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lehigh, Northampton, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties.
“We know not only that we succeeded in slowing case growth, but that our actions, our collective decisions to stay at home and avoid social contact — we know that saved lives,” Gov. Wolf said in a press conference announcing the changes. “My stay-at-home order did exactly what it was intended to do: It saved lives and it bought us valuable time.”
Wolf referred to a study by Drexel University that indicates that in Philadelphia alone, 60 days of staying at home resulted in more than 7,000 lives saved and prevented more than 68,000 people from needing hospitalization.
In deciding which counties to move to yellow, the state used risk-based metrics from Carnegie Mellon University combined with contact tracing and testing capability and a sustained reduction in COVID-19 hospitalizations. While the 50 new cases per 100,000 population was considered, it did not weigh any more heavily than other factors.
Over the past two weeks, the state has seen sustained reductions in hospitalizations. From May 8 when the first counties moved to yellow to yesterday, the number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized dropped by nearly one thousand — from 2,618 to 1,667.
The number of COVID patients on ventilators shrank by about a third, from 505 to 347.
New cases continue to decline: From May 8 to May 15, the state added 6,384 cases and from May 15 to 21, added 4,770.
The current COVID-19 incidence rate in the state is 83.4 cases per 100,000 people. Two weeks ago, it was 113.6 per 100,000. Most other states are seeing their new case rate continue to increase or remain flat. Pennsylvania is one of just 19 states with new case-rate declines.
Counties that have been in the yellow phase for the requisite 14 days have been closely monitored for the risk associated with transitioning to the green phase.
“We continue to increase testing every day and are continuing to build our contact tracing capacity, as well,” Wolf said. “We are able to do these things, to be successful, to reopen in this manner because of the Pennsylvanians who have made tremendous sacrifices since the virus emerged in our state.”
Under the green phase, remote work remains strongly encouraged. Businesses still face operating capacity restrictions, with most limited to 50 percent occupancy. Large gatherings are restricted, and businesses must follow CDC and health department guidance for social distancing and cleaning.