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Gov. Wolf to Bucks: County Moving Rapidly Toward Yellow; More Info Soon

May 13, 2020

Contact: Larry R. King, 215-348-6413, lrking@buckscounty.org

Gov. Tom Wolf’s office signaled today that Bucks County is “rapidly moving” toward reopening, and pledged to provide more information within a week, the county commissioners said in a statement released this afternoon.

The governor did not grant the commissioners’ request, made Saturday, that the county be given a certain date for moving from shutdown “red” mode into partially reopened “yellow” status. Twenty-four less-populated counties entered yellow status on Friday, and 13 others in western Pennsylvania are set to join them this Friday.

Instead, a Wolf representative spoke this afternoon with Commissioners’ Chair Diane M. Ellis-Marseglia and reached “consensus that we are rapidly moving toward the `yellow phase’ of reopening and there should be more information within the next week,” the commissioners’ statement said.

Wolf’s office also agreed to involve a staff member in Bucks County’s daily conference calls with fellow officials from the five-county Philadelphia region. Marseglia said she also pushed for regular, if not daily, communication between Bucks County Health Director David Damsker, Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine and Levine’s epidemiology staff.

In a conference call Saturday that included Levine, members of Wolf’s staff, the county commissioners and Damsker, Bucks officials sought consideration of different metrics for allowing the county to reopen than what Wolf has proposed, as well as more frequent communication and a date certain for moving into “yellow” status.

“(W)e never stated an intention to defy Governor Wolf’s stay-at-home order as some have inferred,” the commissioners said in their statement, which can be read in full here: https://tinyurl.com/y73kgsh5

The commissioners acknowledged the hardships being endured in the meantime by small business owners whose enterprises remain shuttered. The county has pledged $6 million of its CARES Act funding from the federal government to provide relief grants to small businesses in the near future.

They advised businesses against defying Wolf’s order by opening prematurely, as doing so could cost them their business licenses, occupancy permits and insurance – effectively their ability to operate.

 “We appreciate the frustration, fear, and anxiety that many small business owners are feeling right now,” the commissioners’ statement said. “While it may be extremely difficult to remain closed now, the alternative of potentially never being able to open again because you’ve lost your business license or insurance is far worse.”

The county health department today announced 63 new positive cases of COVID-19, as well as seven deaths of residents who had tested positive for the virus.

Thirty-five of the new cases are in long-term care facilities, as well as three among staff. Twelve people were infected within their households, two are healthcare workers, one caught the virus at a non-medical workplace, and seven were unable to be reached today by contact tracers.

Three of the infections were the result of pure community spread, meaning the infected person had no indication of where or from whom he or she acquired the virus.

The seven decedents, ranging in age from 105 to 59, all had underlying health conditions. Six were residents of long-term care facilities.   

 A total of 180 coronavirus patients are hospitalized in Bucks, including 24 in critical condition and on ventilators. Of the county’s 4,133 positive cases during the pandemic, 1,140 patients are confirmed to have recovered.  

Statistics, charts and other coronavirus-related information can be found on the county’s data portal: https://covid19-bucksgis.hub.arcgis.com.  An interactive Bucks County map showing numbers of active infections by municipality can be found here.

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