Bucks County officials are petitioning Governor Tom Wolf to partially reopen the county by May 31. And they want an answer by Wednesday, May 13.

The Bucks County Commissioners met with Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine via Skype Saturday afternoon. The meeting came after Commissioners Diane Ellis-Marseglia, Bob Harvie, and Gene DiGirolamo sent a letter to Wolf requesting a direct conversation.

Wolf recently announced 37 counties would be allowed to move into the yellow phase of his administration’s plan to reopen. But Bucks was not among them.

Instead, Wolf extended Bucks County’s stay at home order through June 4, 2020.

COVID-19
Bucks County Director of Health Dr. David Damsker speaks at a coronavirus press conference.

Local officials and legislators have been pushing back for the past few weeks against Wolf’s plan to keep Bucks closed. Bucks Director of Health Dr. David Damsker has even called the administration’s primary metric for reopening “arbitrary.”




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Under Wolf’s plan, a county would need to see less than a cumulative 50 new cases per 100,000 residents over 14 days. Bucks would need to see less than 320 cases in a two week span, or less than 23 per day.

“What’s really important to look at is who gets sick and why,” Damsker said. “And so the number of 50 per 100,000 is arbitrary.”

Bucks officials argue a majority of new cases are present in nursing homes and community spread remains low. Sunday’s numbers seem to reinforce this position.

The county reported 81 new cases Sunday, bringing the total to 3,922. But 61 of them were residents of nursing homes. None were the result of community spread.

As a result, the Commissioners are arguing danger to the general public is low.

Secretary of Health Dr. Levine initially dismissed this argument at a press conference last week.

“We’re not going to separate nursing home cases from other cases in a county,” Levine said. “We are all interconnected. One section of a community, such as a nursing home, or personal care home, impacts the general community. And the community impacts that facility. The staff go back and forth.”

At this time, it is unclear whether the Wolf administration will reconsider.




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