On Friday, June 19, the Department of Health announced the counties that would be moving to green in the next week, based on four criteria:
- Stable, decreasing, or low confirmed case counts for the past 2 weeks as compared to previous 2 weeks
- Contacts of cases are being monitored
- PCR positivity rate < 10% in past 14 days
- Hospital bed use is 90% or lower per district population
Lebanon County is the sole county that will be left in yellow next week, because we failed the first and third criteria. Our state representatives and senator, along with our DA, coroner, and two of our county commissioners, have failed us. In doing so, they have put Lebanon County residents’ lives and livelihoods at risk. This was entirely predictable.
Not only are we seeing an increase in the number of positive cases, with a positivity rate that indicates we’re still not doing enough testing, but our business owners who have been hoping for green so they could reopen in accordance with the rules are disappointed once again.
What should our leaders have been doing?
- Modeling safe, scientifically-based behavior like social distancing/wearing a mask*/washing their hands frequently
- Messaging the necessity of such actions and the reasoning behind them, providing additional clarity when appropriate
- Ensuring that medical professionals and first responders had enough PPE
- Working with healthcare providers to get enough tests and testing sites to meet the positivity threshold of <10%
- Securing funding for small businesses to help them stay afloat during this time
- Providing protection for renters and homeowners who can’t afford their housing payments
- Helping local businesses understand the guidelines for re-opening and providing resources for planning
*Wearing a mask whenever in public, not just when required to do so in order to secure a photo opportunity for providing meals to first responders.
Instead, they were:
- Prematurely declaring that Lebanon County was in the yellow, despite not having met the metrics
- Encouraging businesses to reopen in defiance of the state guidelines
- Publicly denouncing science, scoffing at guidelines that were in our community’s best interests to follow, and holding press conferences to promote flouting the rules
- Writing legislation to impeach the Governor
- Writing legislation to end the emergency declaration, possibly impacting the state’s ability to receive federal funds
What a wasted opportunity and complete failure of leadership. Pennsylvania stands as a model of how to safely and responsibly respond to COVID-19 and return to some sense of normal. Lebanon County, however, stands as a monument to arrogance, ignorance, and selfishness.
There are some in Lebanon County who disagree with me. They’re welcome to comment on my social media, message me, or send me an email. I’m always willing to listen to other perspectives and engage in discussion. If you look at Representative Diamond’s Facebook page, you’ll see overwhelming support for him. This is because he blocks constituents who disagree with him and deletes their comments. Doing so is possibly illegal and definitely runs against the spirit of the Constitution that he loves so much. Likewise, he’s often complained about Governor Wolf and Dr. Levine picking winners and losers. In the meantime, he put a huge amount of energy in promoting a restaurant that’s not even in his district, simply because its owners were willing to break the rules. Imagine how all the restaurant owners in the 102nd district, who are following the guidelines, feel. Where is their press conference? Why isn’t their representative devoting any time to promoting them?
As ignorant and arrogant as these actions are, I hope our county’s elected officials actually believe in the rhetoric they’re using. Because the alternative is that they know exactly the danger to our community’s physical and economic health and are proceeding anyway, simply to score some cheap political points.
Those are my thoughts on the subject. And here are some quotes from other Lebanon County residents about Friday’s news.
“If you go over to Berks County, almost everyone wears a mask and follows the social distance guidelines. I manage a home and community-based program so my staff are constantly out and around people with disabilities. They have been vigilant and stayed safe and healthy! They wear masks and wash their hands because they care about the vulnerable. But apparently Russ and it seems like half this county do not! It’s sad that a city as crowded as Reading could control the cases faster than Lebanon!” – Palmyra resident
“If Frank Ryan can spend six months in Iraq locked down on a military base for the Iraqi people, why can’t he do it for us to defeat COVID-19?” – Christopher Lancaster
“Our four intrepid representatives have made Lebanon County the laughing stock of Pennsylvania. I know they’re proud of themselves. I’m not. Their partisan grandstanding and feigned indignation have shown they only care about the constituents they can exploit for their own agenda. We’ll remember this come November.” – Lorraine S.
“If Lebanon County and you sir, were not too ignorant to wear masks we would be green. Great leadership. Thank you Governor Wolf and Dr. Levine for all you have done to protect PA residents. Vote for Matt Duvall!” – Marie A.
“When the LebCo Republican leaders pushed the county into the yellow phase, they said that it could be done safely. Since that time, they have done nothing to ensure safety. In fact, they elevated a restaurant that is not only operating in a manner outside of the yellow phase restrictions by offering indoor dining but is also not requiring masks. Their arrogance and ignorance does not serve the businesses that are struggling and following safety guidelines nor the businesses that are waiting to reopen. They only serve themselves not the people of Lebanon County by continuing to fight the Governor and not COVID-19.” – Tina P.
“I’m so sad and disappointed. This was a chance for people and parties to work together for the common good. The reality is that following the medically proven guidelines would have resulted in faster opening of the county and businesses. How short-sighted and arrogant of our county’s elected leaders to turn it into egotistical grandstanding.” – Denise S.
“Current elected officials have thumbed their noses at a very real threat to the population of this county. This is blatant selfishness on their part. Now with the increase of cases and deaths in this county we are paying for their greed and disregard of others.” – Karon I.
The biggest help you can give my campaign is to share this post widely within your social networks. I am dedicated to creating a grassroots movement to represent the constituents of the 102nd district, but to do so, I need your help in getting the message out.
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