‘Proceed with caution’

County in ‘Yellow’ phase of Gov.’s plan to reopen state

Warren County is one of 24 counties state-wide that is moving from “Red” to “Yellow” under Governor Tom Wolf’s plan for reopening the state amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The move will be effective Friday, May 8, at 12:01 a.m.

In the “Yellow Phase,” some businesses would remain closed — including restaurants and bars except for takeout and entities such as gyms, casinos and theaters — and large gatherings would remain prohibited. Those restrictions would be removed in the “Green Phase,” which would require businesses and individuals to comply with “CDC and PA Department of Health Guidelines,” according to the governor’s office.

All of the counties adjacent to Warren — Erie, Crawford, Venango, Forest, Elk and McKean — will also move to “Yellow.”

The southwest, southeast, and northeast counties of the state remain in the “Red” phases where the most strict mitigation efforts remain.

“We’ve selected these counties in part because they have low per capita case counts,” Wolf said, and have testing capacity and contact testing capacity in place. Population density, he said, is also a factor.

In addition to Warren, the following counties will also move to Yellow: Bradford, Cameron, Centre, Clarion, Clearfield, Clinton, Crawford, Elk, Erie, Forest, Jefferson, Lawrence, Lycoming, McKean, Mercer, Montour, Northumberland, Potter, Snyder, Sullivan, Tioga, Union and Venango.

Wolf said the underlying message is “proceed with caution,” that stores should continue with no-contact options, employees should telework where possible, and people should “stay physically away from one another” as much as possible.

County government won’t be waiting for the 8th and continues to plan to open the 4th.

“The county government didn’t have to close so we are opening on Monday with appropriate precautions,” Commissioner Ben Kafferlin said. “So, we are opening regardless of whether or not the county is deemed ‘yellow’ or not.”

Those precautions include, he said, six foot lines on the sidewalk and plexiglass guards at transaction counters among other things.

The City of Warren won’t be following that lead.

City Manager Nancy Freenock told council on Thursday night that it is “not my plan to open this building until the day after Memorial Day at the earliest.”

She said employees would come back on May 11, which would be followed by a 14-day waiting period “before (we) open the building to the public.”

Churches will have to make their own decisions once the 8th comes.

Wolf said that “most have done everything they can to keep their congregants safe” and a limit of 25 people gathering “will continue to be operational.

“The guidance is there,” he added. “Religious organizations will do what they intend to do.”

Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said she is “hopeful” those in the “Yellow” areas will continue to practice social distancing and wear marks, among other precautions. The goal for testing in those areas is for testing to be “accessible and available” for symptomatic patients,

She clarified that “organized sports are not going to be allowed under the ‘Yellow’ phase” and said it is the state’s recommendation that patients going in for elective surgeries should be tested.


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