The first Pennsylvania counties allowed to partially reopen did so last Friday.
There were 24, all in the northwest and north central part of the state. Many local elected officials were frustrated, questioning why some areas with higher case numbers were on the initial list, but area counties were left off.
A majority of respondents to the Herald-Standard’s latest poll question, “Do you think Gov. Wolf should have eased the pandemic restrictions on Fayette and Greene counties (on May 8) as well?”, felt the same.
We received 1,435 responses, with 812 of them (56.5%) indicating low case counts in Fayette and Greene should have put them on the May 8 reopening list. About 39.9% (573 respondents) felt it was too soon to reopen the counties, while 50 people said they were unsure.
Neither Fayette nor Greene has seen an exponential rise in cases in the way the state’s eastern counties did.
The state Department of Health reported the first positive cases in Fayette on March 22 and in Greene on March 25.
As of Wednesday, Fayette had 85 cases, a five case rise in the last two weeks.
Greene, meanwhile, reported 27 cases, a one case gain since April 30.
Of course, the two local counties, now, are part of 13 in the area that are going to partially reopen tomorrow. Wolf made that decision last week, freeing all of Southwestern Pennsylvania, with the exception of Beaver County, from stay-at-home orders at midnight Friday.
The upgrade to yellow under Wolf’s red-yellow-green designations for counties means many nonlife-sustaining businesses will be allowed to reopen, though indoor entertainment venues, gyms, salons and casinos will remain shuttered. Restaurants and bars will still be barred from dine-in services, but will remain open for take-out or delivery services.
When counties reach the green designation, those remaining businesses will open and restaurant and bar service will go back to normal. So far, state officials have not announced any timelines for that to happen, nor have they revealed what metrics they’re using to make the call.
As we ease into a time of less restrictions, we want to know how you feel. Head to www.heraldstandard.com to answer this week’s poll question: “Are you worried about a spike in COVID-19 cases in our area as we start to reopen?”