Businesses take ‘Luzerne County Ready Pledge’ to reopen safely in yellow phase on May 29
From a press release:
As Luzerne County prepares to transition into the yellow phase of reopening this week, local organizations are launching the new Luzerne County Ready Pledge to communicate a commitment made by businesses of all sizes to protect the health, safety, and well-being of their employees and customers during the coronavirus pandemic.
Being “Luzerne County Ready” means that all federal, state, and local public health guidelines are being followed at any location with the Luzerne County Ready designation, which can be identified by printed and digital signage. These guidelines include following proper social distancing, sanitation, and cleaning protocols found online at luzernecountyready.org.
“We are excited with the unveiling of the ‘Luzerne County Ready’ campaign, as it lets the community, and especially visitors to our area, know we are ready for them to start enjoying all the wonderful parts of our county again. Before COVID-19, tourism was almost a $1 billion industry in Luzerne County, employing over 7,000 people. With businesses exhibiting the pledge sign, it signals they are being proactive in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and are ready to safely do business again,” said Theodore B. Wampole, Jr., executive director of Visit Luzerne County.
“Luzerne County is ready!”
With 2,662 cases and 135 deaths according to the Pennsylvania National Electronic Disease Surveillance System, Luzerne County has been among the Top 10 counties in the state with its number of confirmed coronavirus cases.
“As we reopen our businesses, our priority is in the protection, well-being, and health of our citizens,” said Wico van Genderen, president and CEO of the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce.
“Toward that end, the pledge and the placards identify those businesses that have taken the steps to follow the guidelines and protocols set forth for the safety of our workforce, workplace, and community.”
On May 22, Governor Tom Wolf announced that counties moving to yellow on May 29 include Dauphin, Franklin, Huntingdon, Lebanon, Luzerne, Monroe, Pike, and Schuylkill.
“While there is much to do as we begin to reopen our economy, the pledge is a great step forward in our reopening,” said Luzerne County Manager Dave Pedri.
“I know we are not done with this virus yet, but I’m grateful for our business community’s focus on the health and safety of our Luzerne County citizens, as well as the challenges and the sacrifices we have all made to flatten the pandemic”.
This initiative was created by Luzerne County officials, along with local leaders from the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Hazleton Chamber of Commerce, the Back Mountain Chamber, the Greater Pittston Chamber of Commerce, Visit Luzerne County, the Downtown Hazleton Alliance for Progress, the Diamond City Partnership, the Downtown Pittston Partnership, and the Wilkes University Small Business Development Center.
“These steps outlined in the pledge represent the actions that we recommend businesses take as they prepare to reopen, including: agreeing that you have read and will abide by all county, state, and federal, CDC, and OSHA guidelines; locating and obtaining all necessary personal protective equipment to ensure guidelines are being strictly enforced for utmost safety; and completing the checklist and submission of your pledge that you are Luzerne County ready for both your employees and customers,” said Lindsay Griffin, COO and vice president of the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce.
“We encourage all businesses in Luzerne County to sign up to participate with us today so that we can work together to ensure the safety of our entire community as we reopen.”
As Wolf allows eight Pennsylvania counties to move to yellow and 17 to green this Friday at 12:01 a.m., all remaining counties in red are expected to move to yellow by June 5 at 12:01 a.m.
The 17 counties moving to green include Bradford, Cameron, Clarion, Clearfield, Crawford, Elk, Forest, Jefferson, Lawrence, McKean, Montour, Potter, Snyder, Sullivan, Tioga, Venango, and Warren. Centre County is eligible to move to green on May 29, so county officials chose to vote today to decide to move ahead, so Centre will now be the 18th county to move to green on Friday.
Counties that remain in red on May 29 and are expected to move to yellow by June 5 include Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lehigh, Northampton, Montgomery, and Philadelphia.
“We’re able to make this progress toward safely reopening our economy because people are taking precautions and keeping themselves and their communities safe – whether it is a person wearing a mask or a business changing their operations to protect employees and customers,” Wolf said today.
“I thank each and every one of you for doing your part.”
In deciding which counties to move to yellow, the state used risk-based metrics from Carnegie Mellon University combined with contact tracing and testing capability and a sustained reduction in COVID-19 hospitalizations. While the 50 new cases per 100,000 population was considered, it did not weigh any more heavily than other factors.
Over the past two weeks:
- The state has seen sustained reductions in hospitalizations. From May 8 when the first counties moved to yellow to May 21, the number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized dropped by nearly 1,000 – from 2,618 to 1,667.
- The number of COVID patients on ventilators shrank by about a third, from 505 to 347.
- New cases continue to decline: From May 8-15, the state added 6,384 cases, and from May 15-21, added 4,770.
- The current COVID-19 incidence rate in the state is 83.4 cases per 100,000 people. Two weeks ago, it was 113.6 per 100,000. Most other states are seeing their new case rate continue to increase or remain flat. Pennsylvania is one of just 19 states with new case-rate declines.
Counties that have been in the yellow phase for the requisite 14 days have been closely monitored for the risk associated with transitioning to the green phase. In the green phase, the state will continue to take precautions, including reducing building capacity, encouraging teleworking, limiting visitation in certain high-risk environments, and preventing large entertainment gatherings.
The guidelines for moving to green are available at governor.pa.gov and include specifics for employers, large events, and social gatherings.