Life beyond the COVID-19 green phase in Pennsylvania will eventually come with many unknowns.
Gov. Tom Wolf said Wednesday that his office was still working on a plan for a future that will hopefully involve finding a vaccine and treatment for the virus.
“I think for all of us there’s a new normal,” Wolf said during an online briefing on the state’s response to the novel coronavirus.
“What the future beyond green means? We’re still working on that.”
Pennsylvania is about to move a number of counties in the central part of the state on Friday into the green phase, which will come with guidelines and restrictions. Washington and Greene counties, along with most of Southwestern Pennsylvania, remains in the yellow caution phase, meaning nonessential businesses such as salons must stay closed and restaurants are limited to selling to-go food.
The virus has killed 5,265 people in Pennsylvania since late March, a number that increased Wednesday by 113 deaths.
State Health Secretary Rachel Levine said the number of cases continued to trend downward.
“This is good news for Pennsylvania,” Levine said. “We still want people to be careful. For the unforeseeable future wear masks when outdoors.”
As for whether or not the disease will make a resurgence in the fall, that, too, is an unknown, Levine said.
“Maybe. Maybe not,” she said.
Wolf said the state’s guidelines for businesses that reopen are not laws, that their owners have private property and every right to require their customers and employees to wear masks.
“Keeping the virus at bay – that has to be your first priority,” Wolf said.
He highlighted a number of smaller businesses that have made changes to their production lines to make products used to fight COVID-19, including one in Pittsburgh.
Wolf said Day Owl in Homestead shifted its focus from making backpacks to creating protective face shields for the hospital network. While following social distancing guidelines, the company hired an additional 15 people to contribute to the production of thousands of shields a week, he said.