Schuylkill County backs down on plan to reopen against governor’s order


SCHUYLKILL COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) Schuylkill County commissioners took a step back from their plans to transition into the yellow phase, despite Governor Wolf never giving permission to do so.

George Halcovage, Commissioner Chairman of Schuylkill County, tells Eyewitness News,
“We want to wait to hear directly from the governor and give us information as to why they are telling us we are still in the red.”

Last Thursday the county sent a letter with over a dozen signatures ranging from elected officials to healthcare networks stating reasons why the county was ready to go into the next phase but the governor didn’t concede.

Halcovage says, “Let Schuylkill County base where we go on what Schuylkill County sees.”

A second letter was sent out over the weekend with six signatures from elected officials saying the county would reopen Friday.

The governor responded with some harsh words and warning of repercussions, including loss of state funding.

“What I am trying to do is keep people safe. And I think that should be something everyone in Pennsylvania rally around. Including politicians and to the extent that they don’t, I think they are doing a disservice to the people they serve.”

Governor Tom Wolf

On Wednesday, county commissioners voted unanimously to put reopening plans on hold.

Rj Klinger from Pottsville comments, “I back our commissioners. They were our voice. And they got shut down. And they got to do what is best for the county.”

Commissioner Halcovage says the county has been told it is close to moving out of the red phase but has not been told what, specifically, it needs to do.

He also says commissioners have had only one recent conversation Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine and the governor.

Halcovage says, “I respect the governor, I respect Dr. Levine. I am asking for the same respect.”

The Schuylkill County Commission will now hold a special meeting at 10 a.m. Monday to discuss a new path forward. Commissioner Halcovage will also join Eyewitness News for our upcoming Coronavirus Response special on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. on WYOU.

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