WILLIAMSPORT — The chairman of the Lycoming County board of commissioners wants to know what is needed to get the county into the “green” phase of Gov. Wolf’s COVID-19 reopening plan.
“What aren’t we passing?” Commissioner Scott L. Metzger asked after Wolf at his Wednesday news conference with Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said the county was not ready to leave the “yellow.”
“The Wolf Administration’s job is to ensure our residents’ safety,” a spokesperson for Levine said later. “We were not confident that Lycoming was ready to go from yellow to green.”
The commissioners by letter Tuesday asked Wolf to move the county into the “green” as he did Centre County, which was not one of the 17 counties originally slated to move from “yellow” on Friday.
The Health Department lists 161 coronavirus cases in the county of 113,000 and 15 deaths. However, Coroner Charles E. Kiessling Jr. said there have been 20 deaths, all senior center residents.
Nineteen of those have been from the ManorCare Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Jersey Shore, he said.
“This is an isolated spot in the county,” Metzger said. There have been only 26 confirmed cases in Williamsport, the county seat, and only 29 new cases in the county in the past 15 days, he said.
“If you feel we haven’t passed something, tell us so we can start working on it,” he said addressing Wolf and Levine. “Our people deserve to know.”
In their letter asking to be moved into the “green,” the commissioners noted UPMC Susquehanna in Williamsport does not have anyone at this time with the coronavirus.
UPMC has the ability to do contact tracing and address any increased COVID-19 activity should it occur, they said.
“A continued partial lockdown will not assist our county in any further reduction of positive cases and we believe will do more damage,” the letter states.
“Our citizens are hurting incredibly,” Metzger said. Many businesses are claiming that unless they are given the opportunity reopen immediately they be unable to do so in the future due to the severe financial impacts of the lockdown, he said.
The county has been in the “yellow” phase since May 8.
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