Harrisburg, PA (AP) — Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration plans to announce Friday which parts of Pennsylvania can begin seeing a step-by-step relaxation of coronavirus-related shutdown directives.
Still, Wolf and administration officials weren’t projecting Tuesday when the state will have widespread mass-testing capacity.
Secretary of Health Rachel Levine said the administration will announce which regions or counties can see some relief from shutdown orders by moving from a “red” designation to a “yellow” designation. Those changes would take effect the following Friday, May 8, a previously announced date.
Meanwhile, Levine says one of the state’s hardest-hit areas, southeastern Pennsylvania, appears to be past its peak.
Harrisburg, PA – In consultation with public health professionals and in an effort to simplify and to better capture growth, decline, or stability, the Wolf Administration elaborated on the Department of Health metrics and included an example to aid in calculation.
A target goal for reopening has been set at having fewer than 50 new confirmed cases per 100,000 population reported to the department in the previous 14 days. So, for example, an area with a population of 800,000 people would need to have fewer than 400 new confirmed cases reported in the past 14 days to meet the target. An assessment will determine if the target goal has been met. The administration will work closely with county and local governments to enable the communities to reopen and transition back to work.
The target data goal is not the only metric to be met before reopening a region. Additionally, the commonwealth must ensure there is:
Enough testing available for individuals with symptoms and target populations such as those at high risk, health care personnel and first responders.
Robust case investigation and contact tracing infrastructure in place to facilitate early identification of cluster outbreaks and to issue proper isolation and quarantine orders.
Identification of an area’s high-risk settings including correctional institutions, personal care homes, skilled nursing facilities and other congregate care settings, and assurance that facilities have adequate safeguards in place such as staff training, employee screening, visitor procedures and screening and adequate supplies of PPE to support continued operations.
The commonwealth also will rely on a modeling dashboard under development and evaluation by Carnegie Mellon University to take a regional and sector-based approach to reopenings, the easing of restrictions and public health response.
A public health crisis necessitates that the administration make the best decision with the information that we have at that point in time, and we will continue to refine our approach. If indicators and criteria point to a spike in cases, the commonwealth, in coordination with local officials, will need to adjust orders and restrictions to ensure the spread of disease remains at a minimum.
The full plan is available here: https://www.governor.pa.gov/process-to-reopen-pennsylvania/.