HARRISBURG, Pa. (KDKA) - Gov. Tom Wolf says tomorrow he will announce another round of counties that will be moving into the "yellow" phase of reopening.
Gov. Wolf announced the first wave of reopenings last Friday. On Friday, 24 counties in northern, rural Pa. will start to reopen, moving into the "yellow" phase where their stay-at-home orders lifted in favor of aggressive mitigation.
At a press conference Thursday, Gov. Tom Wolf said Pennsylvanians can expect more reopening announcements Friday.
"As you know, last week I announced the opening of 24 counties, and tomorrow we'll make another announcement to make sure we announce the next round," Gov. Wolf said.
This news comes as the southwest region is still in the "red" phase.
"As I said last week, southwestern Pennsylvania is doing a really good job. We're doing the best we can to keep people safe within the constraints of this deadly virus," Gov. Tom Wolf said earlier this week. "The southwest is doing a great job, and the hope is that they can move into the yellow phase like the 24 counties I announced last Friday fairly quickly," Gov. Wolf went on to say.
Allegheny County and the rest of the region easily met the governor's criteria of new cases, staying under 50 per 100,000 over 14 days.
Area hospitals have never been stressed, and Allegheny County says its testing and tracing of those who have come in contact with infected people has allowed it to isolate and contain spikes.
"We felt it prudent that, looking at all the different data and all the metrics, but then taking into consideration our ability to work with counties in terms of contact tracing and testing, and the population density of Allegheny County and Pittsburgh, that it was not prudent to go from red to yellow at this time. But we are hoping to do that in the future," Dr. Rachel Levine said last week.
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Dr. Levine has also indicated that more testing is needed. As of yesterday, there have been more than 19,000 tests conducted in Allegheny County -- less than 2 percent of the population.
Allegheny County and UPMC's Dr. Steven Shapiro told KDKA's Andy Sheehan Wednesday that testing gives a very good indication that the virus has a low prevalence here.
The tests have been done on people who show symptoms and only about 5 percent are now testing positive for the virus. And most of of those have been confined to nursing homes.
"In the community our case rate is very low. It's really a nursing home problem and we need to really focus on that, which we can, but think it's fairly safe in the community right now to move forward," Shapiro said.
And, Shapiro says says Allegheny County has been doing a good job in contact tracing — alerting and quarantining people who have come in contact with an infected person. If and when we reopen, the county believes it's in a good position to identify, isolate and contain any flare-ups.
Shapiro says he's very comfortable moving into a reopening phase.
"We're very comfortable because we think we can live with this virus at low levels and keep case rates down in our community, so yes we're very comfortable with moving forward," he said.
The April 1 stay-at-home order was set to expire at midnight, but Gov. Wolf and Secretary of Health extended the order for all counties in red until June 4. They will continue to move counties into the yellow phase in the meantime, with the next round of announcements on Friday.
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