WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — The clamoring to reopen even more Pennsylvania counties is getting louder this weekend.
As Eyewitness News first told you Saturday, Schuylkill County is among a growing number of counties that will defy the governor’s order and self-transition to yellow phase later this week. We just learned today another county, Lancaster, plans to defy the governor’s order on Friday and move to yellow phase.
The anti-lockdown movement is also gaining support from a well-respected Wilkes University professor who has an extensive background in healthcare policy. Dr. Justin Matus is not mincing words when it comes to the Wolf Administration’s emergency lockdown order.
“Businesses and their owners, they need to get back to work. This scorched earth policy coming out of Harrisburg, we won’t recover from that,” Dr. Matus said.
Dr. Matus, who has four decades of healthcare policy experience, is taking aim at Governor Tom Wolf‘s lockdown policy which he compares to “moving the goalpost”.
“The goal never was to eradicate the coronavirus, nor will we. The spread will continue. There’s no denying that. The goal was to slow it down. We have slowed it down and we were trying to buy time and we bought time,” Dr. Matus said.
That sense of mission accomplished is why the Schuylkill Response, Renewal, and Recovery Team sent Governor Tom Wolf a letter this weekend. It informed the governor that Schuylkill County is going rogue and will self-transition to yellow phase May 15th.
“We have flattened the curve. We have done our job. We have done our job. And it is time for Schuylkill County to get back to work,” Representative Jerry Knowles, (R) 124th District, said.
During Friday’s state briefing, Gov. Wolf deflected criticism of his lockdown policy to manage the COVID-19 crisis.
“This is the enemy, the virus. Not regulations, not the government, it’s the virus,” Governor Wolf said.
And the state health secretary defended the decision-making process on which counties will reopen and when.
“There are quantitative factors and qualitative or subjective factors in determining that,” Dr. Rachel Levine said.
But Dr. Matus calls Harrisburg‘s formula bad metrics during a new normal of face masks, frequent handwashing and social distancing.
“People are smart. They’ll figure out a way to remain safe and each individual can do their own risk assessment,” Dr. Matus said.
And allow metro areas like Wilkes-Barre/Scranton/Hazleton to get back to business.
“I think the bottom line, the people of Luzerne and Lackawanna County, we’re not stupid. We get it,” Dr. Matus said.
As of now, Governor Wolf’s designated northeast region, which includes Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties, has been ordered to remain in the red phase through at least June 4th.