Twelve more Pa. counties are set to reopen. What happens next? | Five for your weekend

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Happy weekend, everyone!

With 37 counties in the yellow phase of reopening, Pennsylvanians are one step closer to returning to a normal, albeit, somewhat modified, routine.

For those of us who have been rocking sweat pants the past two months and are now looking at their closet full of jeans and work clothes, we feel your disdain for non-comfy garments, but sometimes we have to do what is uncomfortable. Wearing masks as the weather warms might be an inconvenience, but it’s in all of our best interest to do so.

As we begin to reemerge, the Capital-Star will continue to work hard, bringing you the news you need about COVID-19 and the key issues that affect your lives. At a time of trial, the need for clear, concise reporting is more important than ever. And we’re going to deliver it to you. If you have questions or want to pass along story tips, email us at [email protected].

As for our usual disclaimer: Continue self-isolating, stay informed and follow the advice and precautions laid out by state health officials.

As always, the top five stories from this week’s news are below to help you stay current.

All the best,
Cassie Miller | Associate Editor

1. Levine corrects Pittsburgh radio host during call ‘Please stop misgendering me’

In a call with reporters on Tuesday, Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine had to admonish a Pittsburgh radio talk show host to “please stop misgendering me” after he called her “sir” multiple times.

KDKA-AM radio personality Marty Griffin was asking a question about what the state’s “end game” was for reopening the state, and the color-coded system of red, yellow and green counties. In the course of asking his question, Griffin called Levine, a trans woman, “sir” at least three times. After being confronted by Levine,  Griffin apologized on the call and later on Twitter claiming he was distracted.

2. COVID-19 outbreak in Pa.: What’s open and what’s closed

This story will be updated with the latest COVID-related re-openings. Last update: Wednesday, May 13, 2020.

Updated: The Pa. Liquor Control Board announced Wednesday that limited, walk-in sales will resume at 155 more state-run liquor stores starting Friday, for a total of 232 stores in 36 of 67 counties.

Updated: Twenty-four Pennsylvania counties emerge from lockdown on Friday morning, going from the “red zone,” to the “yellow zone,” in the Wolf administration’s color-coded reopening scheme. The move allows for the reopening of most businesses, with social distancing and other public health restrictions still in place. Meanwhile, the administration extended its stay at home order for the rest of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties until June 4.

Updated: On a call with journalists on Tuesday, Gov. Tom Wolf had this to say about the next steps in the state’s ongoing reopening effort: “I think the southwest is doing a phenomenal job. And again, we’ll be making another announcement soon. And the hope is that we can move quickly there, wherever else in Pennsylvania. We’re making good progress as we make good progress with this disease to open up and keep people safe.”

3. COVID-19 in Pennsylvania: Tracking the outbreak with maps and graphs

The staff at the Capital-Star is working round-the-clock to keep you updated on the COVID-19 pandemic in Pennsylvania. Our continually updated graphics use state Department of Health data to show you the latest in testing data, total case counts, and the geographic spread of the virus.

First, our county-level map shows how many cases have been confirmed in each of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties. We’re currently updating this at least once a day with information from the Department of Health’s noon-time press releases.

This map only uses data from the state Department of Health, so it may not include new cases that you’ve seen reported in local media outlets. Local hospitals and health officials report their cases to the state, and we’re relying on state data to make sure we’re not over-counting patients.

4. Go their own way? DAs in two Pa. counties say they’re not going to enforce stay at home orders

Local officials in at least two Pennsylvania counties may not comply with state-issued stay-at-home orders starting next week, when almost half of Pennsylvania counties will be permitted to gradually reopen businesses and public offices.

District attorneys in Lebanon County, in south-central Pennsylvania, and Beaver County, in western Pennsylvania, have both indicated that they will stop enforcing stay-at-home orders beginning May 15.

Neither of the counties have been permitted to enter the “yellow phase” of Pennsylvania’s tiered reopening system, which allows retail stores, day care centers and other businesses to operate as long as they follow federal social distancing guidelines.

5. ‘You can’t make a plan until you have the rules’: As NEPA restaurants look to reopen, concerns about the future abound

It was around 1 a.m. last Friday, and my wife, Marni, nudged me awake. Her shoulders shook in the darkness. The tears ran freely down her face.

“She’s gone,” she said softly, her voice filled with depthless pain and loss and disbelief.

It was the news that we prayed would not come. After three weeks of a brave fight that saw her pingpong from the brink of death to what we cautiously hoped was her recovery, my wife’s mother, Rona Gertz, 74, of Manalapan, N.J., died on April 24 of complications from COVID-19.

And in a split-second, Rona, a whole person, with a life fully lived, joined the sad cohort of the more than 61,000 Americans who have so far lost their lives in the pandemic. Taken on its own, the tally is so vast that it’s almost incomprehensible. It’s a faceless sea of data.

But in every death, in every empty place at the table, there is a story.

And that’s the week. Enjoy the rest of your weekend. We’ll see you all back here on Monday.

Cassie Miller
A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry. Miller has an extensive background in magazine writing, editing and design. She is a graduate of Penn State University where she served as the campus newspaper’s photo editor. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in professional journalism at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In addition to her role at the Capital-Star, Miller enjoys working on her independent zines, Dead Air and Infrared.