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Gov. Wolf Says He’ll Reopen Pa. On A County By County Basis

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf giving an address from his home on March 23, 2020.
Commonwealth Media Services

Governor Tom Wolf offered more details today about his plan for reopening Pennsylvania. That’s slated to start happening May 8 in regions with low numbers of COVID-19 cases.


Wolf said it will be done on a county by county basis, the same way Pennsylvania was shut down.


“The whole point of this is to make sure we’re not saying it’s a one-size-fits all," Wolf said. "What’s good for Philadelphia is not going to be good for Cameron County. What’s good for Tioga County is not good for Montgomery County. We need to recognize that reality as we move forward.”


To qualify for loosened restrictions, a region has to have an average of fewer than 50 cases per 100,000 people over a two-week period. Most counties in central and northcentral Pennsylvania meet those guidelines.


But, Wolf said there will be some subjectivity in the decisions.


“One researcher called it tinder," the said. "This virus, there’s basically, there tinder smoldering all around us. We might look pretty good today, but a spark from that tinder could actually, in the neighboring area, could actually ignite something in our area.”


He said the state could reverse a decision, if needed. So, if one area is opened up, but becomes a “hot spot,” the state could close it down again.


Under the plan, the entire state currently has a “red” status and is under stay-at-home orders. If a region is moved to “yellow,” those stay-at-home restrictions will be lifted, but gatherings of more than 25 people will not be allowed. Child care can open, but telecommuting for work should continue where possible. And restaurants and bars will still be limited to carry out and delivery.


There are more than 37,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania.

Anne Danahy has been a reporter at WPSU since fall 2017. Before crossing over to radio, she was a reporter at the Centre Daily Times in State College, Pennsylvania, and she worked in communications at Penn State. She is married with cats.