Monroe County requesting fast track to ‘yellow phase’

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STROUDSBURG, MONROE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) Saturday, a letter released by the Monroe County Commissioners states that they are not looking to defy Governor Wolf’s orders, but are asking to be sent into the ‘yellow phase’ as soon as they meet the criteria.

Monroe County Commissioners say they meet most of the criteria to go to a yellow phase except the case count over a 2 week period. Under Governor Wolf’s reopening plan, counties must have less than 50 positive cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 residents for a 14 day period.

According to the county’s release and state data, Monroe County is still over the case threshold. The release said in part:

“While we are well below the 82 new CORONA cases that we saw on April 4, 2020, we have not yet reached the magic number for our status to change. Following the Department of Health report on Friday, May 15, 2020, our new case count over the past fourteen days is 116. With Monroe’s population, our new case count needs to be below 85 for that period. It is the relatively high numbers that we were seeing two weeks ago that are keeping us above the criterion for movement to the “Yellow” category.”

Commissioners praised residents and businesses for their COVID-19 mitigation efforts and have made $500,000 available to small businesses through a low interest loan program.

They release goes on to say:

“We have communicated with Governor Wolf asking for two things:

That when we hit the criterion of 85 new cases over a fourteen day period, he designate Monroe County as “Yellow” immediately. Over the past few weeks, the Governor announces those counties that are going to move to yellow, with his order effective the following Friday. This can result in a ten day plus delay in reopening businesses. We see no reason why such a delay is warranted. Businesses that are presently closed have been planning for how to protect their employees and customers, almost from the moment they closed their doors. Obviously, any business that reopens will need to follow the CDC guidelines and, in fact, the Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau is collecting the names of businesses that have already made such a pledge.

That the Governor considers allowing additional businesses to open even before achieving “Yellow” status. We have big-box home improvement stores, Walmarts, and grocery stores in the county who are doing an excellent job of protecting employees and shoppers. We believe that hair and nail salons, barber shops, small retailers, car dealerships, realtors, and others could ensure equal or better levels of protection. It goes without saying, that business in the near future will not be transacted the way that it has been done in the past.

We are hopeful that the Governor will consider our recommendations. In the meantime, keep doing what you’re doing. Hitting the magic 85 number depends on the cooperation of everyone.”

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