Bucks County could move from the “yellow” phase to the “green” phase under the governor’s reopening plan by Friday, June 26.
Withholding any major uptick in new COVID-19 cases in the county, the planned move was told to some state lawmakers Friday afternoon by the governor’s office, said State Rep. John Galloway, a Democrat from Falls Township.
State Sen. Steve Santarsiero, a Democrat from Lower Makefield, confirmed the news late Friday afternoon.
“I was told (by the governor’s office) that the date we would be going into green – provided that the current trend in the cases of COVID-19 continues where they are in Bucks County – it will be the 26th of June …. Many of us hoped it would be a week earlier – the 19th – but they are taking this week and next week to evaluate,” Santarsiero said.
“The commonwealth has not yet decided what counties, if any, will more to green on June 26,” said Lyndsay Kensinger, Gov. Tom Wolf’s spokesperson.
She added that the governor’s office will continue to look at metrics to determine what counties will open.
Galloway confirmed he heard the news of the June 26 from the governor’s office.
State Rep. Frank Farry, a Republican from Langhorne Borough, said the first he heard word through a call from this news organization. He said he was disappointed the governor’s office hasn’t already announced Bucks County will be moving to the green phase, especially since the county health director said Bucks County has seen a significant drop in cases.
The change in phases – no matter when it happens – will ease business restrictions in the area. (Details on what each phase means)
Bucks County Health Director Dr. David Damsker said Thursday that the county was prepared to move to the green phase as new COVID-19 cases and deaths have dropped in recent weeks. The county also has in-depth contact tracing and virus testing in place.
Bucks County has gone from regularly seeing more than 100 new cases per day in April to seeing low double digit counts in late May and into June.
Many small business owners, employees, and residents have been itching for a move to the green phase as restrictions ease.
Wolf has faced significant pressure from Republicans across the state and locally to continue reopening. Sources have said Democratic state lawmakers in Bucks County also have called for him to move the area to the green phase before late June.
Bucks County moved from the “red” phase to the “yellow” phase only last Friday. It moved along with the whole Philadelphia region. It was unclear if that entire area could move to the green phase on June 26.
As of Friday, there will be 46 counties in the green phase and 21 counties in yellow. Eight additional counties outside of the Philadelphia region will move to green next Friday.
“In Pennsylvania, not only did we flatten the curve, but we are continuing to keep case counts down even as we open our commonwealth,” Gov. Wolf said in a Friday statement. “We will continue to take a measured, phased approach to reopening that relies on science and health experts.”
Previously, state officials have looked at a combination of a reduction of cases, the number of hospital beds, and other factors on a county-by-county and regional basis before announcing phase changes.
Santarsiero said residents should continue to use caution and take measures to keep themselves and others healthy during the pandemic and as restrictions ease.