Cumberland County and Carlisle area officials spent the weekend using news releases and social media to voice opinions about if and when the county can make the move from red to yellow in Gov. Tom Wolf's Reopening Pennsylvania Plan.
County commissioners said in a news release Saturday night they are proactively working to explore available options to move the county to the yellow phase of Wolf's plan to reduce coronavirus restrictions.
“We continue to research the legal and practical options available to us on all issues regarding re-opening, so we are ready to open more broadly in the right way, at the right time,” said Cumberland County Commissioner Gary Eichelberger in the news release. “Like everyone, we want this to happen as soon as possible, consistent with overall public safety and with the best chance of sustained success.”
Commissioners said in the news release they have heard from "many citizens" on both sides of the reopening issue about other counties declaring they would open without state approval.
GOP state lawmakers in Lebanon County and York County notified Wolf this weekend they intended to lift pandemic restrictions on their own beginning next week. Dauphin County announced similar plans after Wolf moved 24 northern rural counties to the yellow phase Friday while also announcing 13 western Pa. counties would make the same move next week.
That started a firestorm of political reaction from counties across the state still marked in the red phase. Locally, Cumberland County Sheriff Ronny Anderson drew attention for a Facebook post in which he said his department would not force businesses to close — though the county sheriff's office has played no role in enforcing business closures to this point.
Wolf’s order to close certain non-essential businesses became enforceable March 23. However, the governor has stressed voluntary compliance, and the Pennsylvania State Police — which has served as the primary enforcement arm — has only issued a single citation for non-compliance statewide, according to the agency. Troopers have issued 312 warnings, according to PSP figures.
During a news briefing Friday, Wolf continued to stress that his closure order was designed to be self-enforcing and told Pennsylvanians to reject the framing that businesses were fighting against him moreso than the virus.
"The regulation is not the enemy. The virus is the enemy," Wolf said. "The real enforcement here is, 'do we want to jeopardize those we care about?'"
Carlisle Borough Councilman Sean Shultz, an attorney at Saidis, Shultz & Fisher, took to Facebook Friday night to offer his explanation for the borough's view on the stay-at-home orders.
"There has been some confusion recently about enforcement of the governor's orders," Shultz wrote in a Facebook post. "Local governments (cities, boroughs and townships) and state agencies are the primary enforcement authorities in regard to the governor's emergency orders. The Borough will continue to work with residents and businesses to remain compliant with the orders that have been upheld as constitutional by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
"So far, the US Supreme Court has not taken up the constitutionality of the orders directly although it left them in place early this week. That means the PA Supreme Court decision continues to apply to all those within Pennsylvania."
The Carlisle Police Department added its own Facebook post Friday as well, saying, "The Borough of Carlisle continues to monitor closely the COVID-19 situation. To minimize risk & exposure, the Borough has initiated a continuity plan that ensures the constant delivery of essential services to businesses & residents. As the situation continues to evolve, the Borough continues to make adjustments as necessary to ensure the health & safety of our residents and employees, as well as to comply with Governor Wolf's Stay at Home Order."
Cumberland County commissioners said they directed the county solicitor to identify if the county has any legal basis to re-open the county to yellow by overriding the governor's emergency declaration.
"We need to do this right. There is a world of difference between action, and effective action; to be effective, it has to be legal,” said Eichelberger. "We understand the frustration of our business owners and residents, and we are extremely sympathetic to their plight."
The commissioners said they will send a letter to Gov. Wolf early this week to convey their interest in a timely and urgent resolution to the outstanding issues related to a broader reopening, according to the release.
Nine new cases of COVID-19 and no new deaths were reported in Cumberland County in Sunday's report from the state Department of Health.
Of the nine new cases, three came from residents in long-term care facilities. The DOH still shows 8 facilities in Cumberland County now showing 200 residents and 54 staff members who have tested positive, with 32 deaths.
The county overall shows 434 total positive cases with 33 deaths. Sunday's results showed nine positives out of 177 total tests for a rate of .05%. In the county totals, 254 of the 434 total positive cases are in long-term care facilities, or 59%. Of the county's 33 overall deaths, 32 are from long-term care facilities. SCI Camp Hill remains with five total positive cases.
In the past 14 days, 167 new cases have been reported in the county. That puts the county's per capita rate for the 14-day period at 65.91 cases per 100,000 people in the county, the lowest rate since April 23.
The southcentral region saw 130 new cases in Sunday's report with Dauphin County reporting 26 new cases and Franklin County reporting 15. Overall, the region saw 1,408 new cases over the previous 14-day period, putting its rate of cases per 100,000 people at 81.52.
Statewide, the Department of Health reported an additional 1,295 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 56,611.
The state is reporting an increase of 19 additional deaths Sunday, bringing the statewide total to 3,707 deaths in Pennsylvania. There are 227,772 patients who have tested negative to date.
County numbers in the southcentral region (through May 10):
- Adams County (pop. 103,009): 3 new cases; 159 total cases; 1,845 negatives; 5 deaths
- Bedford County (pop. 47,888): 0 new case; 29 total cases; 3335 negatives; 1 death
- Blair County (pop. 121,829): 0 new cases; 28 total cases; 1,447 negatives; 0 deaths
- Cumberland County (pop. 253,370): 9 new cases; 434 total cases; 2,208 negatives; 33 deaths
- Dauphin County (pop. 278,299): 26 new cases; 823 total cases; 4,778 negatives; 36 deaths
- Franklin County (pop. 155,027): 15 new cases; 493 total cases; 3,609 negatives; 12 deaths
- Fulton County (pop. 14,530): 0 new cases; 8 total cases; 133 negatives; 0 deaths
- Huntingdon County (pop. 45,144): 62 new cases; 181 total cases; 463 negatives; 0 deaths
- Juniata County (pop. 24,763): 0 new cases; 93 total cases; 208 negatives; 1 death
- Lebanon County (pop. 141,793): 6 new cases; 811 total cases; 3,183 negatives; 16 deaths
- Mifflin County (pop. 46,138): 2 new cases; 52 total cases; 846 negatives; 0 deaths
- Perry County (pop. 46,272): 1 new cases; 35 total cases; 361 negatives; 1 death
- York County (pop. 449,058): 6 new cases; 773 total cases; 8,621 negatives and 13 deaths
Case counts by region to date (through May 10):
- Northcentral — 9 new positives; 872 total positives; 9,985 negatives; 15 inconclusive
- Northeast — 213 new positives; 11,236 total positives; 34,331 negatives; 123 inconclusive
- Northwest — 6 new positives; 313 total positives; 7,796 negatives; 16 inconclusive
- Southcentral — 130 new positives; 3,810 positives; 28,037 negatives; 56 inconclusive
- Southeast — 885 new positives; 36,452 total positives; 107,068 negatives; 818 inconclusive
- Southwest — 24 new positives; 2,902 total positives; 40,055 negatives; 31 inconclusive
Long-term care facilities in the Midstate (through May 10):
- Cumberland County: 8 facilities, 200 residents, 54 staff, 32 deaths
- Adams County: 3 facilities, 23 residents, 4 staff, 4 deaths
- Dauphin County: 3 facilities, 183 residents, 39 staff, 24 deaths
- Franklin County: 6 facilities, 64 residents, 10 staff, 4 deaths
- Lancaster County: 30 facilities, 516 residents, 139 staff, 141 deaths
- Lebanon County: 5 facilities, 66 residents, 12 staff, 10 deaths
- York County: 6 facilities, 11 residents, 3 staff, 1 death
ZIP code-level counts (through May 10):
- 17013: 43 positives, 264 negatives - +1
- 17015: 19 positives, 145 negatives - +2
- 17050: 48 positives, 263 negatives - +1
- 17055: 39 positives, 309 negatives - +1
- 17011: 107 positives, 283 negatives - +7
- 17007: Less than 4 positives, 25 negatives
- 17065: Less than 4 positives, 29 negatives
- 17324: Less than 4 positives, 51 negatives
- 17241: 11 positives, 121 negatives - +1
- 17257: 120 positives, 176 negatives - +7
- 17240: 5 positives, 14 negatives - +1
- 17025: 14 positives, 149 negatives
- 17070: 21 positives, 179 negatives
- 17043: 6 positives, 79 negatives - +1
- 17019: 14 positives, 132 negatives - +1
Email Tammie at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @TammieGitt.
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