Pedri: No, county not headed back to yellow phase

By Jennifer Learn-Andes [email protected]

			
				                                Pedri

Pedri

Luzerne County is not set to move back to the more restrictive coronavirus yellow phase, county Manager C. David Pedri said Thursday.

“I want to be very clear. I have received no word of us going back to yellow,” Pedri said during a virtual update on county government held by the Greater Hazleton Chamber of Commerce.

Pedri raised the issue because he has received at least 10 inquiries from citizens about a return to yellow the last two days. He pointed to the baseless chatter as an example of the county’s efforts to combat social media rumors with facts during the pandemic.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health would alert the county if its case counts and other factors were rising to a level that could trigger the county’s movement out of the least restrictive green phase, which hasn’t happened, Pedri said.

Speaking generally, a health department spokesperson said Gov. Tom Wolf made it clear during his reopening announcements that the state would continue monitoring each county to ensure the safety of residents.

Much of the data the state monitors is now accessible to all on its newly created early warning dashboard, which is updated weekly and posted online at www.health.pa.gov, the department said.

The dashboard has not reported any alarming results for the county to date in the six categories the state is tracking.

Its latest statistics compare numbers from the week of June 26 to July 2 and the prior week of June 19 to 25:

• New weekly county cases increased from 42 to 44, which is only two more. The increase was 819 statewide, with 637 of the additional cases stemming from Allegheny County.

• Luzerne County’s incidence rate, or cases per 100,000 residents, is 13.9 in the most recent week, or about the same as the prior week’s 13.2. Statewide, the incidence rate is 33.4.

• The county’s coronavirus testing positivity rate is 1.7%, a decrease from the prior week’s 2.1%. The state rate: 4.5%.

• Average daily coronavirus hospitalizations were 7.3 in the county, or 2.3 less than the previous week’s figure. Hospitalizations decreased 88.1 statewide.

• No county residents were reported on ventilators.

• The percent of hospital emergency department visits due to coronavirus-like-illness was 0.5% both weeks. Statewide, the percentage was 0.7.

On Thursday, the county had 12 new coronavirus cases and no new deaths.

Pedri said he’d be on high alert if the county got into the range of 30 new cases several days in a row. During the virtual chamber session, he praised residents for the county’s sharp decline in cases since April, saying they made a difference by social distancing, wearing masks and following hygiene protocols.

He urged residents to continue with precautions, saying the county is not “through with the pandemic.”

“This isn’t time for us to celebrate,” Pedri told the virtual attendees. “But it is time for us to say how far we’ve come.”

The county entered the green phase on June 19, permitting more businesses to reopen at half capacity with protocols, including hair salons, restaurants/bars, fitness centers, shopping malls, theaters and casinos.

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.