‘There Is Not One Size That Fits All’: How Gov. Wolf Plans to Reopen Pennsylvania

AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

By Associated Press

April 21, 2020

“If I were in Philadelphia, I probably would not want my government to be saying, ‘OK, everything seems to be just perfect right now.'”

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Regions of Pennsylvania that have seen a relatively low number of confirmed cases of the new coronavirus might be able to reopen “in a fairly robust” way on May 8, Gov. Tom Wolf said Tuesday.

Wolf, in a conference call with reporters, said he intends to loosen restrictions on people and businesses in much the same way he imposed them over the past month: Gradually, and county by county.

“There is not one size that fits all. We can start to reopen the state in, I think, some areas a fairly robust way, in other areas less so,” Wolf said. “If I were in Philadelphia, I probably would not want my government to be saying, ‘OK, everything seems to be just perfect right now.'”

More than half of all people who have tested positive for the virus statewide live in Philadelphia and its four suburban counties. Many rural counties, by contrast, have been minimally impacted. Five counties have reported just one or two cases.

Wolf has said the state has made sufficient progress in its fight against the virus to begin gradually reopening some businesses in early May, depending on the availability of widespread diagnostic testing and the capacity of the health care system. Republicans are pushing a more aggressive timetable.

His health secretary, Dr. Rachel Levine, said last week that contact tracing — identifying people who have been exposed to an infected person so they can be quarantined — will be “really important” as Pennsylvania emerges from a pandemic that has killed more than 1,500 statewide. But Wolf said Tuesday there’s no budget for contact tracing.

“We don’t have a lot of good leads on that at this point and we certainly do not have a budget,” he said.

Other Coronavirus News

The Pennsylvania Department of Health has started releasing ZIP code-level information about cases of the novel coronavirus.State health officials published an interactive map on Monday that shows the number of confirmed cases of the new virus and the number of negative virus tests.

The map is searchable by county and ZIP code. The county data also shows the number of COVID-19 deaths.

Health Secretary Rachel Levine said even residents in communities with a relatively low number of confirmed cases should continue to heed social distancing rules, noting a lack of widespread testing means the actual number of people with the virus is far higher than what shows up in the statistics.

The virus has been spreading faster in recent days in less populated counties like Columbia, Northumberland, Juniata and Susquehanna.

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