LANCASTER, Pa. (WTHM) — On Friday, Lancaster County was the only Midstate county remaining under the most restrictive phase of Governor Tom Wolf’s reopening plan.
Lancaster will be joining the yellow phase next Friday though, along with the rest of the state that is still considered ‘red’.
During a weekly conference to discuss how the county is handling the pandemic, County Commissioner Craig Lehman expressed his frustration with how much longer the county has to wait to slowly reopen.
“Although disappointed, I will not violate my oath of office and encourage businesses to operate illegally,” Lehman said.
He argued that Lancaster could have helped itself at the beginning of the pandemic if it had its own public health department, which he has continued to lobby for.
Lehman also laid blame on the state Health Department for issues related to data, responsiveness, and transparency. “Advanced readiness and more local control could have addressed all of these concerns and advanced readiness and more local control could have been achieved with a county public health department.”
Congressman Lloyd Smucker said 54,000 county residents have filed initial claims for unemployment during the coronavirus pandemic.
Smucker also noted that the hospitality and tourism in the county is facing a dire situation.”Your favorite restaurant or bar may not survive if they’re not allowed to reopen soon.”
Commissioner Josh Parsons, who pined that the county was already ready for a month now, says the official move to yellow can’t come soon enough.
Parsons said despite the Lancaster County Coroner reporting almost 300 deaths and a quicker spike in cases during the last half of May compared to the first, the county is ready for the move.
“I’m interested in the new cases,” he said. “I’ve always been interested in the new cases but that’s not the key metric, that’s not what this is about. In my view, we’ve done a good job of testing and we’re doing a better job so we’re going to find cases in the community.”
Parsons also mentioned that testing has increased so much that there is now a question of if the county will have enough people with symptoms to test.