PENN LIVE\PATRIOT NEWS - All Pennsylvania businesses may or may not reopen without any COVID-19-related restrictions. Gov. Tom Wolf’s red, yellow, green reopening plan may or may not now be part of the state’s history. People may or may not gather in large congregant settings.
If that leaves you confused, welcome to the current state of affairs in Pennsylvania. We now live in uncharted waters.
The GOP-controlled General Assembly on Tuesday passed a concurrent resolution that directs Wolf to issue a proclamation or executive order to end the COVID-19 disaster emergency that the governor issued on March 6 and renewed on June 3. While Republican lawmakers are adamant that the governor has no power to veto the resolution, that is exactly what Wolf has vowed to do when it is presented to him.
“Until then, no action will be taken,” said Wolf spokeswoman Lyndsay Kensinger. “The disaster proclamation has not been terminated by the House or Senate’s actions. Only the governor can terminate the disaster emergency.”
Where this ends up, some guess, is in the courts. Or the governor may decide to issue a new emergency disaster declaration.
Sen. Steve Santarsiero, D-Bucks County, argued it didn’t make sense to move forward with the resolution since the entire state is on track to be in the green, or least restrictive, phase of the governor’s reopening plan by June 19. Moreover, he said it could lead to a resurgence of the virus and risking the potential for another lockdown of the economy.
That was the immediate concern it raised for epidemiologist Donald Burke, dean emeritus of the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public Health. said, “The reason our case rates are as low as they are right now is exactly because of these emergency orders and the business closures and mitigation efforts that have followed. To pull back completely from these protections now… would be unwise in the extreme, and bordering on suicidal,” Burke said. “I really feel that strongly about it.”
Regardless of the legislative action, Burke said it’s important for people to continue to exercise social distancing and for the state to continue to build testing and contact tracing capabilities anyway, but he worried that if the state orders are annulled more people will let their guard down in more circumstances, and aggravate the chances for a rebound.
“We have not had enough infections to confer herd immunity to the entire population, so we’re all still at risk.”
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from Lawmakers vote to end Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 emergency disaster, but Gov. Wolf says it’s not over by Jan Murphy and Charles Thompson / Harrisburg Patriot-News