May 29 (afternoon) Pennsylvania COVID-19 Update

BELOW:

  • Wolf, Levine move 16 counties from yellow to green phase
  • Daily report from DoH re COVID-19 cases
  • Wolf holds first press conference since March

 
Wolf signs orders moving 16 counties to green phase on Friday May 29
Governor Tom Wolf today announced that 16 additional counties will take another step forward and move to green effective 12:01 a.m., June 5. Counties include Allegheny, Armstrong, Bedford, Blair, Butler, Cambria, Clinton, Fayette, Fulton, Greene, Indiana, Lycoming, Mercer, Somerset, Washington, and Westmoreland.
 
The first 18 counties moved to green today, including Bradford, Cameron, Centre, Clarion, Clearfield, Crawford, Elk, Forest, Jefferson, Lawrence, McKean, Montour, Potter, Snyder, Sullivan, Tioga, Venango and Warren.
 
Eight counties moved to yellow today, including Dauphin, Franklin, Huntingdon, Lebanon, Luzerne, Monroe, Pike, and Schuylkill.
 
Counties that remain in red and are expected to move to yellow by June 5 include Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lehigh, Northampton, Montgomery, and Philadelphia.
 
With more than half the state poised to be in the green phase on June 5, the governor this week provided an updated order for counties moving to green to give businesses and residents a clearer picture of what is permitted in that phase of reopening. The order includes these highlights:

  • Large gatherings of more than 250 prohibited.
  • Restaurants and bars open at 50% occupancy.
  • Personal care services (including hair salons and barbershops) open at 50% occupancy and by appointment only.
  • Indoor recreation, health and wellness facilities, and personal care services (such as gyms and spas) open at 50% occupancy with appointments strongly encouraged.
  • All entertainment (such as casinos, theaters, and shopping malls) open at 50% occupancy.
  • Construction activity may return to full capacity with continued implementation of protocols.
  • Visitation to prisons and hospitals may resume subject to the discretion of the facility. Visitors who interact with residents and patients must be diligent regarding hygiene. Given the critical importance of limiting COVID-19 exposure in nursing homes, personal care home and long-term care facilities, visitation restrictions will initially remain in place.

 
Business frequently asked questions were also updated and are available here.
 
Wolf also said guidance will go out next week for reopening Pa. schools in the fall. He said schools WILL reopen – although they may look different (i.e., a mix of in-person and distance learning, smaller class sizes, etc.).
 
FRIDAY’S REPORT FROM DoH
The Pennsylvania Department of Health on Wednesday confirmed that, as of 12:00 a.m., May 29, that there were 693 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 70,735. All 67 counties in Pennsylvania have cases of COVID-19.
 
There are 5,464 total deaths attributed to COVID-19, an increase of 91 new deaths. County-specific information and a statewide map are available here
 
There are 604 patients who have a positive serology test and either COVID-19 symptoms or a high-risk exposure, which are considered probable cases and not confirmed cases. There are 366,970 patients who have tested negative to date.
 
Of the patients who have tested positive to date the age breakdown is as follows:

  • Nearly 1% are ages 0-4;
  • Nearly 1% are ages 5-12;
  • Nearly 2% are ages 13-18;
  • 6% are ages 19-24; 
  • Nearly 37% are ages 25-49; 
  • 25% are ages 50-64; and
  • 28% are ages 65 or older.

 
Most of the patients hospitalized are ages 65 or older, and most of the deaths have occurred in patients 65 or older. More data is available here.
 
In nursing and personal care homes, there are 15,335 resident cases of COVID-19, and 2,565 cases among employees, for a total of 17,900 at 603 distinct facilities in 44 counties. Out of our total deaths, 3,517 have occurred in residents from nursing or personal care facilities. A county breakdown can be found here.
 
Approximately 5,280 of our total cases are in health care workers.
 
For the latest information for individuals, families, businesses and schools, visit “Responding to COVID-19” on pa.gov.
 
Non-life-sustaining businesses in the red phase are ordered to be closed and schools are closed statewide through the remainder of the academic year. Currently, 57 counties are in the yellow phase of reopening. The first 18 counties moved to green today. All remaining red counties are expected to move to yellow by June 5.
 
Statewide – The Wolf Administration has since noon, May 28:

For the latest information for individuals, families, businesses and schools, visit “Responding to COVID-19” on pa.gov.
 
Governor signs partial budget
On Friday, the Governor signed the partial (5 months) budget passed by the House and Senate this week.  The no-tax increase spending plan, approved by the Senate Thursday, and the House on Tuesday, provides five months’ worth of funding across state government, but a full year of funding for K-12 and higher education across the state.
 
Legislative Democrats who opposed the budget plan for the fiscal year that starts July 1 complained that flat funding for public education would lead to local property tax hikes or staff reductions as school districts sought to fill spending gaps.
 
In a statement released by his office on Friday afternoon, Wolf called the funding plan a partial victory, but said more needed to be done to “to ensure Pennsylvania has the resources it needs to protect key programs and investments.”
 
The budget also provides $420 million in nursing home assistance; $50 million to combat food insecurity; $225 million in small business grants, and $625 in block grants to help counties suffering budget problems because of the pandemic, the administration said.
 
The accelerated measure pushes off tough decisions until a lame duck session after the November election, giving lawmakers more time to assess the damage to state revenue collections and to await another round of stimulus cash that many hope may be forthcoming from Congress.
 
In his statement, Wolf alluded to the challenges yet to come, saying that “as the state’s economy begins to reopen from the public health emergency, there are still unanswered questions about the state’s finances, but this agreement is an important step to stabilize our schools and put Pennsylvania on a path to recovery”
 
In a veto message on SB 1027, passed by the Senate on Thursday, Wolf said the bill would have hamstrung his ability to cite businesses that reopen in defiance of state orders and that “prohibition is a legislative infringement on executive authority and violates the separation of powers, which is critical to the proper functioning of our democracy.”