5 NEPA counties preparing to go yellow

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(WBRE/WYOU) — Some new counties are moving into the yellow phase next week on May 22nd.

Governor Wolf announced the 12 new counties Friday. Of those, five are in our area. They include Carbon, Columbia, Susquehanna, Wyoming, and Wayne Counties. The five counties in our region moving into the yellow phase next Friday spent much of this past week making sure their voices were heard in Harrisburg and it seems to have paid off.

County leaders wrote letters and proposals while area business owners and residents held rallies to reopen. Some say it’s long overdue. Others are skeptical. The important thing is five more counties in our region have the week to prepare to move to the yellow phase of reopening as safely as possible.

After almost two months of stay at home orders, another round of counties will move into the yellow phase.

“Everybody’s been getting very antsy here and wanting to get back into the flow and I trust that they’ll be safe and put everyone’s safety and concerns first during our opening,” Wyoming County Commissioner Tom Henry said.

While there have been some protests, the social distancing and sanitizing practices have paid off from Wyoming, Wayne County, and beyond.

“We have our citizens and our businesses having been very compliant in following the protocols to flatten the curve and reduce the spread,” Wayne County Commissioner Joseph Adams said.

Lightly impacted counties like Susquehanna think they’re ready to reopen without that leading to a rise in the number of cases.

“We have to continue to work together so that we don’t have a spike in cases and so we can move forward safely into the green phase,” Susquehanna County Commissioner Elizabeth Arnold said.

Others like Columbia, which had a resolution to go yellow on the 15th, but are now agreeing to stay in the red phase for one more week after the governor’s order put them in the next round of counties to reopen on the 22nd.

“We’re one step closer to normal. We have a lot of colors to go through yet,” Columbia County Commissioner Rich Ridgway said.

Carbon County leaders say while they have been devastated by the blow to small businesses and tourism, they have a clear path forward.

“Their inability to open up so far this year has really taken a toll on these people and if we don’t get things moving soon, a lot of these businesses will not survive,” Carbon County Commissioner Wayne Nothstein said.

Many of the county leaders Eyewitness News spoke to Friday are ready and raring to go to get business back open and people out of the house. The key here and a sentiment shared by most, this has to be an all hands on deck effort from neighbors and businesses alike to make sure these counties can go and stay in the yellow for now.

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