Gov. Wolf says data shows his path to reopening Pa. is working

But there's more than one way to slice Pa.'s coronavirus numbers

  • Ed Mahon
Philadelphia will close city offices and facilities on Friday in recognition of Juneteenth, the oldest national holiday to commemorate the end of slarvery in the United States. Texas made Juneteenth a paid state holiday in 1980, according to CNN, and Virginia’s governor wants to do the same there. Last year, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signed legislation to commemorate the day annually.— Ed Mahon, PA Post reporter

Kate Landis / PA Post

Protesters hold signs during a May 15, 2020, rally outside the state capitol in Harrisburg, Pa. About 1,000 people showed up to protest Gov. Wolf’s coronavirus shutdown order.

Coronavirus infections are surging in Florida, Arizona, Texas and many other states.

But in Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Wolf is pointing to encouraging numbers as a sign that his phased reopening plan is working.

The Wolf administration says data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows Pennsylvania, Montana and Hawaii are the only three states with a downward trend of cases for more than 42 days.

“We know our decline is real because of the choices we’ve made,” Wolf, a Democrat, said during a Wednesday news conference.

But with that decline, Pennsylvania still ranks near the high end for the total number of confirmed coronavirus infections and COVID-19 deaths, according to data from the New York Times and John Hopkins University

When you adjust for the different populations of states, Pennsylvania ranks 15th for the number of coronavirus infections and sixth for the number of COVID-19 deaths, according to the New York Times. (Data from Johns Hopkins also ranks Pa. 15th for coronavirus cases per capita, but lower for COVID-19 deaths per capita.)

Wolf made the comments in defense of his phased reopening plan on the same day that the Pa. Supreme Court agreed to hear a legal dispute over whether Wolf’s disaster emergency declaration will stay in place. And the governor is facing pressure in other areas. Here’s what else you need to know about the fight over reopening parts of the state and Wolf’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Car show: The Pennsylvania Department of Health filed a lawsuit to try to prevent organizers of the Spring Carlisle car show from hosting the event that was expected to bring in about 100,000 visitors, PennLive reports.

  • Going green in Erie: Girard Borough Council voted to move itself into the governor’s least restrictive green phase, even though the county’s executive says municipalities and counties don’t have the ability to override the state, reports. Erie County was one of the first to go yellow in the state, but it could be among the last to go green.

  • Nursing homes: Republican congressmen are raising questions about the decision by Wolf and four other Democratic governors to send stable COVID-19 patients from hospitals to nursing homes, LNP reports.

  • Data inconsistencies: Spotlight PA’s Sara Simon reports that “over the past three months, the state health department has repeatedly failed to safeguard the public’s trust in its data. While there is no evidence of intentional manipulation, the state’s blunders have created openings for confusion.”

Best of the rest

Brett Sholtis / Transforming Health

In this June 2019 photo, Martha Stringer holds a photo of her daughter, Kim.

  • An update on Kimberly Stringer: WITF’s Brett Sholtis reports that health workers have removed Kim from the Bucks County jail and taken her to Norristown State Hospital. Brett’s coverage of Kim and the conditions that other inmates say she was living in at the jail received a lot of attention. “It’s hard to say precisely why she was moved today — the reality is, officials may never tell me. But I think it’s fair to say that all your emails, petitions, and legitimate outrage were part of the conversation,” Brett wrote on Twitter.

  • Joe Biden back in Pa.: The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee and former vice president returned to Pennsylvania Wednesday to talk about reopening the economy. The Philadelphia Inquirer’Julia Terruso covered his stops in Delaware County.

  • Enthusiasm gap? Final results for Pa.’s June 2 primary are in, and the numbers show that Democrats were much more excited to vote than Republicans. But don’t read too much into that, The Philadelphia Inquirer says. Even though Joe Biden got more votes than President Trump in a primary where Bernie Sanders’s name was still on the ballot, that doesn’t mean the fall election will go the same way. “Party enthusiasm is one of many factors that could be crucial in a state decided by just 44,000 votes in 2016, or about 0.7% of the vote,” The Inquirer notes. “Republicans, however, will almost surely be more motivated to turn out when Trump’s reelection is on the line, and 2020 has been filled with unprecedented variables. General elections draw a wider swath of people — including third-party and independent voters, who make up 14% of Pennsylvania’s registered voters but are shut out of primaries.” Meanwhile, The Intercept warns that if Trump loses this fall, Republicans will point to the slow counting of votes in Pa. and elsewhere as evidence of voter fraud.

  • Law enforcement hearings in the SenatePA Post’s Joseph Darius Jaafari and  Pennsylvania Capital-Star’s Elizabeth Hardison provided live coverage and analysis. Day two of the hearings is scheduled for today starting at 10 a.m. Next week, the full House is expected to vote  on legislation that would create a database with complaints against officers that law enforcement agencies would have to search before hiring new officers.

  • Full disclosure: Bethlehem became the first city in the Lehigh Valley to release its police department’s use-of-force policy. According to The Morning Call, the policy “includes the recommendations in the ‘8 Can’t Wait’ campaign, which are points reformers have asked departments across the country to adopt, including: banning chokeholds, requiring de-escalation techniques, warning suspects before firing, using alternatives to guns, and requiring officers to intervene when force is inappropriately applied.”

  • Racism among LatinosPA Post’s Anthony Orozco often notes that “Latino” is an ethnicity, not a race. His latest story looks inside our state’s growing Latino communities to reveal there are many people Black and indigenous Latinos who face racism and stereotyping by other Latinos.

  • Reminder: WITF will present a virtual conversation at 7 p.m. this evening focused on systemic racism and injustice in Central Pennsylvania and beyond. More details here.

Coronavirus updates:

Subscribe to The Contextour weekday newsletter

Up Next
The Context

Fifteen days after primary, some Pa. counties still finalizing election results