HARRISBURG (KDKA/AP) — Another 2.6 million people across western Pennsylvania are emerging from lockdown Friday and Gov. Tom Wolf has now announced that 12 more counties will soon join them in a partial easing of pandemic restrictions.

Gov. Tom Wolf announced the next round of “Yellow Phase” reopenings Friday afternoon during a news conference, and Beaver County is in the mix.

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“Looking at all of our metrics, Beaver County has significantly [seen] decreasing case counts in the last two weeks,” Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said.

Effective May 22, Gov. Wolf says Adams, Beaver, Carbon, Columbia, Cumberland, Juniata, Mifflin, Perry, Susquehanna, Wyoming, Wayne and York will be the next batch of counties moving to the “yellow” phase of his reopening plan.

That means the governor’s stay-at-home orders are lifted and retailers and other types of businesses may reopen.

Beaver County is the only county in Southwestern Pennsylvania not moving to the “Yellow Phase” today.

Rep. Aaron Bernstine sent a message previewing the announcement on his Facebook page Thursday night.

However, Gov. Wolf says the decision to move Beaver County to “yellow” is not based on calls from residents or anyone else.

“These are not political decisions. We’re looking at the data and Beaver County is doing much better [than from what was seen last week]. Politics have nothing to do with it,” he said.

The county was not included in last week’s announcement because of a high number of coronavirus cases, mainly at Brighton Rehab and Wellness Center. The National Guard has moved into the facility over the past week, and it also now has a new temporary manager monitoring the situation.

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“We will do everything we can to protect the residents and the staff there and everywhere,” Dr. Levine said.

At a press briefing on Thursday, Gov. Wolf said Pennsylvanians should expect more reopening announcements today.

The counties moving into the “yellow” phase today are Allegheny, Armstrong, Bedford, Blair, Butler, Cambria, Fayette, Fulton, Greene, Indiana, Somerset, Washington and Westmoreland.

The 24 counties that moved into the “yellow” phase on May 8 were Bradford, Cameron, Centre, Clarion, Clearfield, Clinton, Crawford, Elk, Erie, Forest, Jefferson, Lawrence, Lycoming, McKean, Mercer, Montour, Northumberland, Potter, Snyder, Sullivan, Tioga, Union, Venango and Warren.

Gov. Wolf has emphasized that “yellow means caution” and moving to the “Yellow Phase” does not mean the end of social distancing and precautions. The governor also says health officials are closely monitoring the counties in the yellow phase and will re-impose restrictions if danger arises.

“This virus has not been eradicated from these counties,” said Gov. Wolf.

State officials say they will also be releasing the metrics system developed by Carnegie Mellon University twice a week. Health officials are using the system and other factors to gauge how much movement a location can tolerate before COVID-19 becomes a threat.

The state’s 18 other counties, including the Philadelphia area, will stay in the “Red Phase” of the plan. Gov. Wolf has extended the Stay-At-Home Order for those areas through June 4.

More information on the Coronavirus pandemic:

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