Commissioner Chairman Dan Camp of Pennsylvania’s Beaver County on Friday slammed Gov. Tom Wolf (D) over his order excluding the county from moving into the next phase of reopening.
On Friday, 24 counties moved from Wolf’s “red” phase to “yellow,” allowing in-store retail operations but barring bars and restaurants from offering dine-in services and requiring salons, barbershops, theaters, and fitness centers to remained closed. Counties that moved to the “yellow” phase on Friday include 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.
Noticeably absent in the cluster of counties is Beaver County – a decision that drew frustration from residents and the county commissioners.
“While the Governor has consistently preached a regional approach to reopening, it has become evident that his previous comments were merely another example of saying one thing and doing another,” Camp said on Friday, explaining that local officials can no longer remain silent and ignore the cries of residents.
“The governor’s double-talk means that Beaver County finds itself singled-out as the only Western Pennsylvania county in his administration’s red category, surrounded by a sea of yellow counties,” he continued, lamenting the “invisible wall surrounding and isolating Beaver County residents and businesses. “
“Our business owners and residents cannot become prisoners of our county because of this unwarranted double-talk,” he continued, slamming the governor for forcing them into an “exiled economic island.”
The governor’s decision is both “unwarranted and irrational,” Camp said, because “our hospital systems are not being overrun by COVID-19 patients, nor is there some communal spread within our community. And, those are the ignored facts!” he exclaimed, adding that the governor’s decision is “simply based solely on one outbreak” in a county nursing home.
“It’s no secret that nearly 70 percent of our COVID-19 cases and more than 90 percent of Beaver County’s COVID-19 related deaths are attributed to one nursing home within the county,” he emphasized.
Because of that, the Board of Commissioners announced that they will “stand behind our District Attorney in his decision not to prosecute any case against a business that chooses to open following the mandated guidelines as laid out in the yellow phase of reopening PA.”
Beaver County had 479 confirmed cases of the virus as of Friday.
Wolf on Friday announced 13 additional counties that will be permitted to move to the “yellow” phase of reopening next week, on Friday, May 15. Those include Allegheny, Armstrong, Bedford, Blair, Butler, Cambria, Fayette, Fulton, Greene, Indiana, Somerset, Washington, and Westmoreland.
The stay-at-home order remains in place for counties that remain in “red” phase. That order expires June 4.