Pennsylvania State Sen. Scott Martin (R) aim at Gov. Tom Wolf (D) over his threats to counties and business owners contemplating reopening without his explicit permission, blasting the “draconian” lockdown imposed by the governor.
Wolf last week allowed 24 of the 67 counties in the state to move from the ultra-restrictive red phase — barring all non-life essential businesses from operating — to the yellow phase, which loosens restrictions. Thirteen additional counties are permitted to move into the yellow phase on Friday, leaving over two dozen counties remaining under lockdown to June 4, unless Wolf grants them an exception to reopen beforehand.
Wolf’s decisions have caused frustration among citizens and local leaders, who contend that he is not basing his decisions on solid criteria. Residents of Beaver County, for instance, say they should be included in Friday’s reopening, as over two-thirds of coronavirus cases in the county, 509 of 364, are connected to nursing home facilities. What is more, almost all of the county’s virus deaths, 71 of 78, are tied to nursing homes.
Wolf has since threatened counties and business owners who have weighed reopening without his permission, warning that the state could revoke licenses and withhold federal stimulus dollars from non-compliant counties.
“The threatening and the name-calling after the counties started to push back a little was really uncalled for,” Sen. Martin of Lancaster said during an appearance on Fox & Friends, referencing Wolf’s claim that leaders who want to move forward are committing a “cowardly act.”
“The way the federal CARES Act was established, counties with over half a million people got a direct allocation from the federal government, so Lancaster County, where I’m from, they got theirs,” he said, adding that other Pennsylvania counties will likely be “relying on these funds in response to COVID-19 that the federal government sent.”
“So it would be historic for a governor to put things into a federal-related program,” he said. “I question whether he has the ability to do that.”
“So does he mean he’s going to cut funding for other vital programs that the state provides for?” he asked. “Human services, abused kids, kids with developmental disabilities.”
Martin also said Pennsylvania had “one of the most draconian lockdowns of all the states,” blasting Wolf for shutting down “mom and pop businesses.”
“As a matter of fact, we had the only state that didn’t allow real estate to occur,” he said, mentioning the controversy related to the state’s shadowy business waiver program.
“Plus, he created an arbitrary waiver process where he gave about 6,100 of hand-chosen businesses across many industries the ability to continue to operate while shutting down the vast majority of our economy,” Martin added.
Lancaster County officials are weighing the possibility of moving ahead with reopening, in violation of Wolf’s orders, as are officials in Beaver County and Lebanon.
Columbia County commissioners sent a letter to the governor on Wednesday, informing him of their intention to begin reopening on Friday.