In a statement on Monday, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf said that there would be "consequences" for those counties who will disobey and violate his stay-at-home orders and reopening plans. This statement was announced on his official Twitter account, just after Donald Trump took to Twitter to push him to "move quickly" on lifting restrictions in the state.
To date, Pennsylvania is still the fifth-highest number of COVID-19 cases in the country. The State Department of Health has recorded 57,154 cases, with deaths now at 3,731 as of Monday. The concerning matter is that those counties that are demanding to reopen have higher rates of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population.
"I won't sit back and watch residents who live in counties under Stay at Home orders get sick because local leaders cannot see the risks of #COVID19 and push to reopen prematurely," Governor World said on his recent tweet. "Today I am announcing consequences for counties that do not abide by the law to remain closed."
The governor said that those who disobey would be blocked from getting discretionary federal stimulus funds. Aside from this, businesses who will violate the orders will be sued and will lose their liquor licenses.
Wolf said, "If your county reopens prematurely and you don't feel comfortable returning to work, rest assured that the commonwealth will allow you to continue to receive unemployment compensation, even if your employer reopens,." He also said that "The dangers associated with #COVID19 may not be readily visible to all, but they are present. We are fighting a war that has taken the lives of too many people. And we're winning. The politicians who are encouraging us to quit the fight are acting in a most cowardly way."
He continued saying that "This is not a time to give up," and "This is not time to surrender. This is a time to rededicate ourselves to the task of beating this virus.".
Thirteen counties in the Pittsburgh region were allowed by Governor Wolf to ease COVID-19 related restrictions starting next week. This is a big step in reopening both the northwest and north-central parts of Pennsylvania.
The following countries that will be moving into the "yellow phase" beginning May 15 are the following: Allegheny, Armstrong, Bedford, Blair, Butler, Cambria, Fayette, Fulton, Greene, Indiana, Somerset, Washington, and Westmoreland. These counties will be joined along with two dozen counties that were previously given the signal to loosen their restrictions.
Although re-openings are now in place, the general public is still advised to follow safety protocols such as washing hands regularly, wearing face masks when going outside, and observe social distancing.