The Bucks County Commissioners released in a Wednesday evening statement that the governor’s office relayed the area is “rapidly moving” toward reopening.
On Wednesday afternoon, a member of Gov. Tom Wolf’s team talked with the commissioners and indicated the county is getting closer to moving from the “red” phase of the plan to the “yellow” phase, which would ease restrictions on businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The representative was very helpful and appreciated the difficult position everyone is in due to the prolonged stay at home order,” the commissioners said in a statement.
Commissioner Chairperson Diane Ellis-Marseglia said she expects there should be more information on reopening within the next week.
The commissioners stressed they “never stated an intention to defy Governor Wolf’s stay-at-home order as some have inferred.”
The Bucks County Commissioners – two Democrats and a Republican – did not say over the weekend that they planned on reopening without state support, but asked the governor for a reopening date so businesses could prepare. They also said reopening before the primary election on Tuesday, June 2 would instill confidence.
“In a meeting with Governor Wolf’s staff and Secretary Levine over the weekend and in a joint letter to Governor Wolf, what we had requested was: a) consideration of adopting modified metrics b) frequent, if not daily, communication with their administration and c) a certain date of moving into the “yellow phase,” like so many other counties in Pennsylvania have received, in order for our businesses and citizens to adequately prepare to reopen the economy. These were requests, not demands.” they stated on Wednesday.
On Monday, Wolf sternly told counties they would lose priority consideration for some emergency funding and businesses who disobey his orders could face consequences like loss of state licenses.
The governor said during his briefing that he had “no plans for an arbitrary date.” He added the state set guidelines and is constantly reviewing the data for reopening.
Wolf’s reopening plan sets out that counties show a lessening of new COVID-19 cases and average less than 50 cases per 100,000 persons over the course of 14 days. In Bucks County, that would equate to an average of 23 new cases per day over a two-week span, a level not seen since the early weeks of the pandemic.
The governor’s plan also calls for aggressive contact tracing efforts, which Bucks County officials have said are in place.
Bucks County and the Philadelphia region remains under a stay-at-home order until Thursday, June 4.
“We remain optimistic that Governor Wolf and Secretary Levine may reconsider their reopening metrics, as has been the request of many counties,” the commissioners said.
On Monday evening, Ellis-Marseglia told LevittownNow.com in an interview that she had hoped the governor’s office would provide “some sort of direction or a plan.”
“I’m looking for something that we can tell the people of Bucks County,” she said.
Ellis-Marseglia said when businesses do reopen, she hopes people wear masks and practice safety measures.
“I want everyone to go back to work too,” she stated.
The commissioners said in their Wednesday statement that Wolf’s office agreed to have a staff member on daily regional calls with Philadelphia-area county officials and to improve communication with county officials.
“We appreciate the frustration, fear, and anxiety that many small business owners are feeling right now,” the commissioners’ said. “While it may be extremely difficult to remain closed now, the alternative of potentially never being able to open again because you’ve lost your business license or insurance is far worse.”
“Many people have asked what they can do to help us assist Governor Wolf in moving Bucks County to yellow and staying on the path to green. It may be tiresome to hear, but the answer is social distancing, the use of face coverings, and taking related precautions. As long as our numbers continue to trend downward and stay down, we will be on the way to full GREEN,” they added.