Levine: I ‘don’t have a specific date’ on when Allegheny County, SWPA will reopen

    The Pittsburgh skyline (Pittsburgh Current photo by Jake Mysliwczyk)

    A day after Allegheny County’s top elected official said he hoped health restrictions could be eased there by May 15, state Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said she couldn’t give a firm date for a reopening for Pennsylvania’s second-most populous metropolitan area.

    “We’ll be looking to see if there are any changes in terms of case rates, we’ll be looking at testing plans,” Levine said Saturday during an online news briefing. “The governor [Gov. Tom Wolf] said he’d be looking at the southwest. But I don’t have a specific date, however.”

    On Friday night, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said he was optimistic that it wouldn’t be long before his corner of the state was allowed to reopen, WESA-FM reported. On Friday, the Wolf administration announced that two-dozen counties in north-central and northwestern Pennsylvania would be allowed to reopen starting May 8.

    Fitzgerald said he was not “totally surprised,” by the administration’s announcement that it was moving that swath of the state from “red” to “yellow” in its color-coded reopening scheme. “But I would not have been totally surprised had we made it into the yellow as well. And I think we were obviously very close.”

    Through midday Saturday, Allegheny County had 1,333 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 102 confirmed fatalities, according to state Health Department data.

    The latest on COVID-19 in Pa.: 48,305 confirmed cases in 67 counties

    As WESA-FM reports, “it has long been clear,” that the number of positive cases reported over 14-day periods in the county had been charting below the 50 cases per 100,00 people threshold needed to be considered for reopening.

    Asked Saturday what factors her office would be considering in allowing Allegheny County and the southwestern sector of the state to reopen, Levine said she’d be talking to local health officials about the “testing and contact tracing plans, they will be implementing and supporting.

    “We’ll be looking at data for Allegheny County and the other southwestern counties,” she continued. “We’ll be looking at the modeling, and make a determination and recommendations, and we’ll present that to [Wolf] and he will make his decision.”

    On Friday, Wolf said the administration was “already looking at other counties to move from red to yellow categories. In particular we have our eyes on counties in the southwest,” WESA-FM reported.

    John L. Micek
    A 3-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. An award-winning political reporter, Micek’s career has taken him from small town meetings and Chicago City Hall to Congress and the Pennsylvania Capitol. His weekly column on U.S. politics is syndicated to 800 newspapers nationwide by Cagle Syndicate. He also contributes commentary and analysis to broadcast outlets in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. Micek’s first novel, “Ordinary Angels,” was released in 2019 by Sunbury Press