Is Hazleton ready for ‘yellow phase’ transition?


HAZLETON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) As Luzerne County Council prepares a plan to present to push for a transition from the ‘red phase’ to the ‘yellow phase’ before the June 4th date designated by the governor, questions are being raised by some people in the county as to whether the Hazleton area is ready for that transition.

Hazleton has been a COVID-19 hot zone. The Hazleton area has about half of the COVID-19 cases in the county. Monday we spoke to healthcare officials and community leaders about the move to partially reopen sooner than later. Here’s what we found.

The City of Hazleton is the epicenter of the COVID-19 crisis in Luzerne County. Lehigh Valley Hazleton has taken the lead in testing for the infection and treating people who contracted the disease.

“I think over the past few weeks we have definitely noticed that we have plateaued and over the last probably week we are seeing numbers go down slightly. We are still seeing positive cases per day but not nearly as high as we were a couple of weeks ago,” said Dr. Jodi Lenko, Vice-Chair of the Deptartment of Medicine at Lehigh Valley Hazleton.

Officials at Lehigh Valley Hazleton say they are prepared to respond whenever the county moves to the yellow phase.

“I think the preparedness that we’ve done at this point in terms of testing which is the most important part to identify the cases and being able to trace them,” said Dr. Lenko.

I asked Dr. Lenko if Lehigh Valley Hazleton is prepared should there be a surge of COVID-19 cases after the county is moved into the yellow phase?

“So right now we are stable in terms we have capacity both in the hospital with ventilating and with equipment. We are in a good position,” she said.

Hazleton City Council Vice-President Tony Columbo isn’t so sure transitioning to the yellow phase sooner than June 4th is a good idea.

“My personal opinion I think we should keep it to June 4th as we are doing more gradually businesses coming back a little at a time that’s good, not overdo it,” said Columbo.

Hazleton Mayor Jeff Cusat was unavailable for comment Monday but he told us last week that he thought the city was ready to move into the yellow phase of the reopening process.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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