The Schuylkill County coronavirus task force says we’re ready to re-open.
Now, all they have to do is convince Gov. Tom Wolf that we know our area better than he does.
“Schuylkill County has been and is absolutely ready to get back to business,” says Schuylkill County Commissioner George Halcovage in a statement received by The Canary. “Our leadership and task force representing all sectors of our county have a plan in place to open back up safely, utilizing all of the CDC and Department of Health guidelines. We owe this to our citizens.”
But considering Wolf’s arrogant demeanor during the coronavirus pandemic response, do we really think he’ll listen?
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: small towns like New Philadelphia should not be treated the same as sprawling cities like Philadelphia,” says State Sen. Dave Argall.
Allegheny County (which contains Pittsburgh) has three times more COVID-19 cases than Schuylkill County but will now reopen before us.
Again, the Governor has acted unilaterally… no input from the legislature…no input from local leaders…no input from the public. pic.twitter.com/sM1KqZbZYY
— Senator David Argall (@SenatorArgall) May 8, 2020
Schuylkill County Coronavirus Task Force Says We’re Ready to Re-Open
On Friday, the Schuylkill County Response, Recovery and Renewal Task Force sent a letter to Wolf indicating this particular part of the coal region is ready to come out of hiding from the Chinese virus.
They sent a letter to Wolf indicating the entire task force is on board with us moving out of the Stay at Home order currently in place until June 4.
You can read a copy of the letter The Canary received from Argall’s office here:
Task Force Letter to Governor Wolf re Reopening Schuylkill County
“We are writing today in regard to your Plan to Re-Open Pennsylvania and the conversations underway in Schuylkill County around your May 4th ‘Guidance for Businesses Permitted to Operate During the COVID-19 Disaster Emergency to Ensure the Safety and Health of Employees and the Public’,” the letter reads.
The letter got signed by 18 members of the task force, which includes members of the political, medical, and business sectors of Schuylkill County. That includes State Rep. Neal Goodman who recently voted against certain businesses re-opening despite their being labeled non-life sustaining by Wolf. Goodman voted against re-opening garden centers and real estate businesses recently when legislation was brought to the House floor in Harrisburg.
Governor’s Plan is “Untenable”
Schuylkill Chamber of Commerce president Bob Carl says the governor’s plan, as it is, is untenable.
“The Schuylkill Chamber of Commerce and our 775 members, including businesses and non-profits, continue to be very frustrated by the inability of Schuylkill County to begin to reopen our economy,” he says.
“The businesses and non-profits have been patient and cooperative with the Commonwealth of PA guidelines and have followed all the CDC and State Department of Health directives. But to continue in this manner, with no stated logic and methodology of what more can be done, no targets set to reopen, and the continued call for patience, simply is untenable to the broader business community.”
Here’s a document showing the members of the county’s coronavirus task force:
Schuylkill County Response, Recovery, and Renewal Task Force Membership List
The letter to Wolf goes on to state more reasons why Schuylkill County should get phased to Yellow immediately:
“Due in part to our low population density, Schuylkill County has fortunately never seen a large spike in Covid-19 cases. Weeks ago saw the county-wide adoption of Secretary Levine’s guidelines so our nursing homes, personal care and assisted living facilities have had few cases of the virus and there have been absolutely zero positive cases in our two state and one county correctional facilities. We are taking responsibility for our own safety each and every day.”
Further, the letter indicates the county’s Emergency Management Agency (SCEMA) is prepared to handle any troubles hospitals or businesses may have dealing with coronavirus-related safety measures.
The letter reads:
“Schuylkill County’s Response, Recovery and Renewal team has brought together our business, industry, government and non-profits partners to communicate and collaborate on resources available should one need assistance with PPE and guidance on safe re-opening protocols that are being delivered for each segment of our
economy. In particular, the Schuylkill County Emergency Management Agency has coordinated weekly conversations with education providers related to continuity of education and food services for our students; emergency service responders; community non-profits active with disasters; health care systems; and the South Central Task Force Multi-Agency Coordination Team.”
Hospitals Ready, Just in Case
The task force asks Wolf move Schuylkill County to the Yellow phase of re-opening largely because our hospital system has resources in place to deal with any potential outbreak of the Chinese virus in the future.
The letter concludes, stating:
“We have the resources in place in all of the health systems serving the county—Geisinger Health System, Lehigh Valley Health Network and St. Luke’s University Health Network – including testing, PPE’s, beds and ventilators. To expand, all health systems are moving forward with elective services beginning this week with additional testing required before treatments.”
Schuylkill County Misses Out on Round 2 of Re-Opening Announcement
On Friday, Wolf announced 13 more Pennsylvania counties that get to move to the Yellow phase. Those 13, all in western Pennsylvania, move to Yellow on May 15.
Schuylkill County missed out again. And because of that, we’re still under a Stay at Home order, now extended until June 4.
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