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Coronavirus In Pennsylvania: Gov. Tom Wolf Announces Plan For Gradually Reopening Economy Using 'Data-Driven' And 'Regional' Approach

HARRISBURG, Pa. (KDKA/AP) - Pennsylvania will gradually reopen its economy using a "data-driven" and "regional" approach.

Four weeks into the state shutdown, pressure has been mounting on Governor Wolf to begin reopening Pennsylvania. But Friday, he once again asked Pennsylvanians to stay the course in its fight against the coronavirus.

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Wolf's plan does not include a timetable or many details about the metrics that Gov. Tom Wolf and his administration will use to decide that Pennsylvania can begin emerging from the coronavirus pandemic after weeks of social distancing.

Wolf's plan comes a day after President Donald Trump, pressing to restart the ravaged U.S. economy, gave governors a road map for economic recovery.

"Unfortunately, we cannot flip a switch and reopen the Commonwealth," he said. "There isn't going to be one big day. We need to make smart, data-driven decisions, and we can't be impulsive. We can't be emotional. We have to follow science."

He said when the state does reopen, the approach will be a data-driven, targeted and regional-based.

There will also be guidance and recommendations issued for employers, individuals and healthcare facilities to assure accountability.

He says reopening means there needs to be enough PPE and testing available.

It also requires a monitoring and surveillance program that would allow the Commonwealth to quickly take actions for containment or mitigation.

The plan also means protecting the vulnerable population by limiting visitors to nursing homes and jails.

Finally, he says a reopening plan means limitations on large gatherings "not limited to occupations," which will remain in place for the whole reopening process.

Next week, Gov. Wolf says he will outline more specific steps for reopening. Just like closing the state was a staged approach, closing county by county, he says he expects reopening the state to work in a similar way.


"There's not one policy, or one answer, or one ideology that can solve all of the problems ahead on the road to recovery," he said.

He went on to say, "We're not Republicans and we're not Democrats. We're Pennsylvanians."

But the lack of a definitive plan of action frustrated House Speaker Mike Turzai, who says the governor should begin lifting restrictions on businesses and allow people to get back to work.

"These folks can work safely, there are ways to work remotely, and they want to get back to putting food on their family's table and knowing they have a sense of security," Turzai said.

Larry Winter, the owner of South Hills Chrysler/Jeep/Kia, echoes the feelings and frustration of so many in Pennsylvania. There's only a skeleton workforce at his dealership after the governor banned car sales during the pandemic.

"They want to go to work. Pittsburghers are great people," said Winter.

Still, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman says Wolf will when it's safe to do so.

"We're all in the same team here. We all want to get Pennsylvania open but we want to do it in a manner that respects lives and livelihoods as well too because you can't have a healthy economy if you have a sick population," he said.

Before this, the governor has not given any timetable on reopening. Wolf, while acknowledging catastrophic damage to the economy, has said adequate testing capabilities are not yet in place in Pennsylvania or anywhere else to start trying to return to normal.

"I think that we ought to stay the course right now," the Democrat told reporters on a telephone conference call. "It is hard, it is devastating the economy, no question about it, but letting this virus overwhelm the health care system and the ability of Pennsylvanians to resist it would be even worse for the economy."

A stay-at-home order is in effect for the entire state until April 30. Schools and businesses are closed indefinitely.

The Pennsylvania Senate passed a bill on Wednesday to reopen businesses if they follow social distancing guidelines set by the CDC.

Opening or staying closed has turned into a political issue, with Republicans accusing Gov. Wolf of creating a secretive process for determining which businesses stay open and which ones close. Meanwhile, Democrats accuse Republicans of ignoring health experts and risking lives.

State Representative Jason Oritay is flooded with messages from concerned residents in his district.

He hopes the governor's future plans include input from the legislature.

"The Senate and the House and bring in some business people, bring in some medical people, bring us all together and let's come up with a plan jointly," Oritay said.

Pennsylvania Lt. Governor John Fetterman said on Twitter that Governor Tom Wolf is likely to veto Senate Bill 613.

More information on the Coronavirus pandemic:

(Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)

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