PA Politicians Seek to Reopen Areas Prior to State Orders
Against state orders officials across southern PA plan to shift to Yellow phase on May 15
Across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, local politicians have spoken out against Governor Tom Wolf's plans to reopen.
On May 8, Wolf announced that in addition to the 24 counties who have moved into the Yellow phase of reopening (including Erie County), 13 southwest PA counties are set to do the same starting on May 15.
Those counties essentially comprise the remainder of the state's southwest region.
Out of PA's 67 counties, this leaves 30 who are set to remain in the Red phase after May 15, 2020.
Amongst these remaining counties, several top political leaders (including state senators, state representatives, county commissioners, and law enforcement divisions) have spoken out against Wolf's orders, with some fully intending to open their counties prior to the state's orders.
For example, leadership in Lebanon County and Dauphin County (Harrisburg, Hershey, PA) were among the first to announce that they would move ahead to the Yellow phase on May 15.
Senator Dave Arnold of Lebanon County, along with state representatives Russ Diamond, Frank Ryan and Sue Helm, District Attorney Pier Hess Graf, county commissioners Bill Ames and Bob Phillips, Coroner Dr. Jeffrey Yocum and Sheriff Bruce Klingler – penned a letter to Wolf, stating that:
"Lebanon County has met the requirement of your original Stay-at-Home order, which was to flatten the curve of the COVID-19 outbreak and allow hospitals the time to gear up for COVID-19 patients. The residents of our county have heeded your instructions to practice social distancing and other mitigation efforts, and as a result our local healthcare facilities do not lack the capacity to effectively treat these patients going forward."
"We have heard the pleas of our residents who desire the ability to safely re-open their businesses and safely return to work." The letter concluded that "Lebanon County plans to move forward and will require businesses who are ready to reopen to follow CDC guidelines including requirements such as handwashing, social distancing, and masks until further guidance is received for the county to move to the Green phase."
Officials in the neighboring Dauphin County quickly followed suit.
Franklin county politicians sent a similar letter to Wolf on May 9.
Schuylkill County did the same.
That Saturday as well, Berks County (Reading, PA) announced their plan to reopen.
On Friday, May 8, The Cumberland County (home to Carlisle, PA) Sheriff's office released a public statement that they would not enforce business closures.
Beaver County, the only remaining western PA county not scheduled to move into the Yellow phase, saw their district attorney, David Lozier publicly stated that he would not prosecute any businesses that chose to reopen on May 15.
Lancaster County officials also sent a signed letter to Wolf on May 10.
According to the PA Department of Health, here is the latest data for some of the counties in question, with Erie County included:
*The number via Erie County data has the number at 120.
These statements and many more, received a response from Wolf in his May 11 press conference, where he spoke of possible consequences if areas proceeded with their plans to reopen.