Update: Some Pennsylvania counties are cleared for green phase on May 29, Allegheny to remain yellow

click to enlarge Pa. counties as of May 22

Pa. counties as of May 22


Update: 4:45 p.m. Fri., May 22, 2020:

On Fri., May 29, eight additional Pennsylvania counties will transition to the "yellow phase," and 17 to "green," as announced by Gov. Tom Wolf, Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine, and Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) Director Randy Padfield in a press conference today.

The counties transitioning to green — the first to do so in the commonwealth — are Bradford, Cameron, Clarion, Clearfield, Crawford, Elk, Forest, Jefferson, Lawrence, McKean, Montour, Potter, Snyder, Sullivan, Tioga, Venango, and Warren. The green phase will ease "most restrictions by lifting the stay-at-home and business closure orders to allow the economy to strategically reopen while continuing to prioritize public health."

Twelve counties officially entered yellow phase at 12:01 a.m. this morning.

“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. “My stay-at-home order did exactly what it was intended to do: It saved lives and it bought us valuable time.”

Specific updates on the green phase restrictions will be announced on Tue., May 26 at 4 p.m.

Update: 2:45 p.m., Fri., May 15, 2020:
Today, Gov. Tom Wolf announced that Beaver County will join the list of additional counties moving to the yellow phase. (For an explainer on what moving to the yellow phase means, click here.) Along with Beaver County, Adams, Carbon, Columbia, Cumberland, Juniata, Mifflin, Perry, Susquehanna, Wyoming, Wayne, and York counties will move to the yellow phase at 12:01 a.m. on Fri., May 22.

“Through our social distancing efforts, we have not only reversed a trajectory of exponential new case growth – we have cut it in half,” Gov. Wolf said in a press release. “And some of the counties that will be shifting into the yellow phase next week eliminated concerns that we had just two weeks ago. So please, keep up your efforts in the fight so we can continue to add counties to the list of those in the yellow phase. Thank you again for your patience and your hard work.”

There are 18 Pennsylvania counties which will still remain in the red phase.


click to enlarge 13 Southwestern Pennsylvania counties in stripes will move from red to yellow phase on May 15.

13 Southwestern Pennsylvania counties in stripes will move from red to yellow phase on May 15.

Original story posted on Fri., May 8, 2020:
Gov. Tom Wolf announced today that almost all of Southwestern Pennsylvania will move from the red to yellow phase of his re-open plan on May 15. This phase is just a partial reopen that mostly affects some retail businesses, child care providers, and eases restrictions on group gatherings.

At a press conference, Wolf reminded people that yellow phase is not a complete reopen and urged Pennsylvanians in those counties to remain cautious.

Beaver County was excluded from the move to yellow. The county has had the worst coronavirus outbreak per capita of any county in Southwestern Pennsylvania. The outbreak is mostly concentrated in nursing homes, and the Brighton Rehabilitation and Wellness Center in particular. Beaver County Commissioners and public officials condemned the exclusion.

The southwestern counties that will move into yellow phase on May 15 are
Allegheny, Armstrong, Bedford, Blair, Butler, Cambria, Fayette, Fulton, Greene, Indiana, Somerset, Washington, and Westmoreland. These counties are home to nearly 2.7 million residents.

As of Fri., May 8, Allegheny County has seen 1,455 positive coronavirus cases, but has been regularly seeing fewer than 20 new cases each day for some time. However, only 20,241 coronavirus tests have been administered as of today, which is less than 2% of the county’s 1.2 million residents.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald was "delighted" by the governor's decision to move the county and most of the surrounding region into yellow phase.

“This is also good news for so many in our community who have been impacted economically because of the COVID-19 pandemic," said Fitzgerald in a statement. "We’re thrilled for the businesses and residents who will return to work, but also recognize that there are many more that will still be without. ... We recognize that it hasn’t been easy, and that we still have a long way to go. This won’t be a short process. As we begin to expand what businesses can operate in our region, we must stay vigilant and continue to follow the mitigation measures that are in place.”

Today, 24 counties in Northwestern and Northcentral Pennsylvania moved into yellow phase.

Yellow phase means that in-person retailers are allowed to operate, but curbside pick-up and delivery are still encouraged. It also means that child-care providers are allowed to operate, but must comply with state guidelines. In yellow phase counties, the stay-at-home order is lifted, but gatherings of more than 25 people are prohibited. Those who can work from home must continue where feasible.

Restaurants and bars can still only operate as takeout and delivery only. Visits to nursing homes, congregate care facilities, prisons, and jails are still prohibited. Gyms, spas, hair salons, nail salons, and other entities that provide massage therapy must remain closed. Entertainment venues like casinos and theaters also must remain closed. Some PLCB liquor stores, aka Fine Wine and Good Spirits, in other yellow counties opened today to limited in person retail, but it's unclear which state-run liquor stores are set to do the same in Allegheny County and surrounding region.

Counties listed as red phase, which still include the heavily populated and hard-hit areas in Eastern Pennsylvania, will remain under current stay-at-home and strict business closure orders until the governor announces those restrictions are lifted. Wolf extended the stay-at-home order for red counties until June 4.

Wolf offered some hope for counties like Beaver County that are remaining in red phase but show signs of coronavirus spread slowing. 

“If current trends continue, they should be moving to yellow very soon as well," said Wolf.