Gov. Wolf, local elected officials spar over reopening of Pa. counties
Immediately after allowing 13 additional counties to begin to loosen COVID-19 quarantine restrictions, local elected officials in several non-eligible counties announced plans to ignore his stay-at-home and business shutdown orders , and reopen on their own without state approval.

Last Friday, 13 new counties, primarily located in the southwest region of the Commonwealth, were added to the governor's list of counties who will be able to start to reopen their economies. In total, 37 counties have been approved by the Wolf Administration to move from the restricted "red" phase to the aggressive mitigation, or "yellow" phase, of the state's color-coded plan to restart the economy.

But many locally-elected officials in counties that remain off of the governor's "yellow" phase list expressed their frustration with the administration and announced plans to reopen their counties, or simply not prosecute businesses that ignore the governor's orders.

Beaver County was the only western Pennsylvania county not included in the governor's latest list of locations moving to the "yellow" phase. Officials in Beaver said that 70 percent of the county’s coronavirus cases and 90 percent of deaths are from one nursing home. They said their residents are being "held prisoners" because of this facility. In Lebanon County, local and state representatives sent the governor a letter outlining their plans to move into the "yellow" phase. In Dauphin County, where the State Capitol is located, commissioners were vocal about their displeasure with the governor's approach and said they will begin to reopen the county at the end of this week.

On Monday, the governor responded to elected officials looking to abandon the state's phased reopening plan, reiterating that opening up areas of the state too soon would put businesses and residents in danger. The governor also outlined the risk for those businesses in counties who reopen against state orders, including the potential loss of insurance coverage or state-issued licenses. Gov. Wolf also said on Monday that counties who reopen against state orders would not be eligible for discretionary funds for COVID-19 relief provided to the state by the federal government. Republican legislative leaders immediately criticized the governor's remarks.

Daily COVID-19 update for Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Department of Health reported 543 new positive confirmed cases of COVID-19 statewide, bringing the state total to 57,154. In addition, 3,731 Pennsylvanians have died from complications from the virus. To date, there have been nearly 232,000 negative cases across the state.

Gov. Tom Wolf is still asking all Pennsylvanians who must leave their homes for life-essential reasons to wear a mask to help stop the spread of the virus . An executive order was issued on April 15 requiring customers entering a place of business to wear a mask.

Daily COVID-19 update for Ohio

The Ohio Department of Health reported 24,777 cumulative cases of COVID-19 and 1,357 deaths, including probable cases, by Monday afternoon. There have been 4,413 hospitalizations and 1,217 ICU admissions.
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Future of Pennsylvania's restaurants unknown as COVID-19 crisis continues. As more than half of Pennsylvania's 67 counties begin to loosen stay-at-home restrictions, what is the fate of the Commonwealth's restaurant industry moving forward? Even after the COVID-19 pandemic is over, restaurants across the state will look drastically different, according to an article by the Patriot News.

AARP talks about loneliness, isolation concerns during COVID-19 crisis. Social isolation and loneliness among seniors has been an area of concern for older adult advocates, even before the COVID-19 pandemic. With social distancing and travel bans implemented to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, AARP talks about how to limit loneliness and depression during the global pandemic.
Unprecedented times, but McNees is here to help
The situation surrounding COVID-19 is changing by the hour. Capitol Buzz will do its best to keep our readers as up-to-date as possible as to local, state and federal actions relating to the virus.

As we have stated in previous editions, for those businesses seeking guidance or assistance on how to proceed during this unprecedented time, please contact the McNees Labor and Employment Practice Group , or for government relations and nonprofit consulting assistance please contact the McNees Strategic Solutions Group (MSSG) .

You can also visit the McNees COVID-19 Article & Resource Page for more information on various legal and political issues created by the novel coronavirus.

For more information on what you can do to protect yourself and others, check out the CDC's coronavirus information page or visit .

The Senate stands in recess until Tuesday, May 12 at 2:00 p.m.

12, 13, 18, 19, 20
1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 10, 15, 16, 17, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30

The House stands adjourned until the call of the chair.

12 (NV), 13 (NV), 18, 19, 20, 26, 27
8, 9, 10, 15, 16, 17, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30
15, 16, 17, 29, 30
1, 5, 6, 7, 19, 20, 21
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