Bucks County finally moved into the green phase of Gov. Tom Wolf’s recovery plan today, allowing businesses ranging from hair and nail salons, fitness centers, casinos and restaurants and bars to reopen and/or increase their capacities.
Bucks joined 11 other counties in going green today, as all but one of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties are now in the least-restrictive reopening phase. Lebanon County, the final county still in the yellow phase, will be allowed to move to green on July 3. Philadelphia is voluntarily maintaining some added restrictions until Jul 3.
Wolf called it “a milestone worth a cautious celebration of the hard work and collaborative spirit of Pennsylvanians. But we must remember that the restrictions that remain in the green phase will help us continue to enjoy the freedoms this phase allows for.”
Moving into the green phase will enable previously-closed businesses to open at 50 percent occupancy. Gatherings of up to 250 people will be allowed with the appropriate social distancing, and restaurants and bars can open their inside facilities to 50 percent occupancy.
Businesses that previously operated at 50 percent occupancy under yellow may increase to 75 percent.
At a news conference on Thursday, County Commissioners’ Chair Diane M. Ellis-Marseglia said she believes the county “is definitely ready” to go green.
“I think there is a huge difference between Bucks County and the rest of the country that we are seeing on TV right now,” she said. “I’m seeing a lot of people in those states who are mocking the idea of (wearing) a mask. I saw people in Arizona on TV last night making a commitment to never wear a mask. Not a good thing to do.”
In contrast, Marseglia said, Bucks County residents have followed health safety recommendations, resulting in a sustained drop in COVID numbers. “We are protecting ourselves and we are protecting each other,” she said.
The Bucks County Health Department today announced 21 additional COVID-19 cases, one of which was a delayed report no longer considered infectious. As has been the case for the past several days, residents who were infected out of state accounted for a substantial share of those new cases.
Seven of the 21 cases were people infected while out of state, four were from household contacts, three are residents or workers at long-term care facilities, two were attributed to pure community spread, one was infected in a healthcare setting and four were unable to be interviewed immediately.
“Number one, just remember that (the virus) is still there,” Health Department Director Dr. David Damsker said at the Thursday news conference. “It’s not gone. Green does not mean gone.”
Damsker encouraged residents to continue to practice the same masking and distancing precautions taken during the earlier yellow phases. “The nice thing is, all businesses are open now, even if they are under some restrictions,” he said.
Two deaths also were reported today, neither of them recent: a 79-year-old man who died on May 29 and a 64-year-old woman who died on April 17. Both had underlying health conditions and one resided in a long-term care facility.
Seventy-four residents remain hospitalized, 11 of them in critical condition and on ventilators.
A total of 506 deaths of Bucks County residents have now been attributed to COVID-19, 404 of whom lived in long-term care facilities. Of the 5,360 county residents who have tested positive for the virus, 3,518 have been 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.