Defiant Schuylkill County to move to yellow phase

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SCHUYLKILL COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — The remaining 30 Pennsylvania counties which remain in the red phase under Governor Wolf‘s order are getting more than restless. Some have decided to self transition to the yellow phase including, now, Schuylkill County.

Restaurants like a McDonald’s in Hometown are among the life-sustaining businesses which have been allowed to be open throughout this pandemic. But now lawmakers and leaders in Schuylkill County have informed Harrisburg it’s time to start getting this county back on the economic track.

“We’ve got to do what we’ve got to do to get back to our essence of normal,” Brian Finnernan of Barnesville said.

Shopping in downtown Pottsville, Finnernan’s patience is running thin because Governor Tom Wolf hasn’t moved Schuylkill County from red phase to yellow.

“I have a very different opinion on this whole thing. I think we’re kind of blowing it a little bit out of proportion,” Finnernan said.

“People are frustrated, people are angry,” Representative Jerry Knowles, (R) 124th District, said.

Speaking from his office in Tamaqua, Knowles said he along with two other lawmakers and all three Schuylkill County Commissioners decided enough is enough. They signed and emailed a letter to Governor Wolf Saturday afternoon informing Harrisburg the county will self-transition to yellow phase next Friday, May 15th.

“Originally, people were asking but now they’re demanding. They are demanding that we get back to work,” Knowles said.

The state’s yellow phase designation allows certain work and social interaction restrictions to ease, including re-opening retail, lifting stay at home orders and allowing gatherings of up to 25 people.

“It’s out of our nature to not go back to normal as soon as possible,” Brian Setlock, Bake Shop VI owner said.

While Bake Shop VI has remained open throughout the pandemic, its owner has seen the economic suffering all around him.

“I’m going to be honest my patience is wearing very, very thin. It’s wearing thin. And what’s going to happen? Where’s your tax money?” Setlock said.

“People know the seriousness of what we’re dealing with but quite frankly we are ready to open. We are ready to go back to work,” Knowles said.

By going rogue, Schuylkill County joins Dauphin and Lebanon Counties to decide to self-transition to the yellow phase without the governor’s consent.

The state health department announced today that Schuylkill County picked up seven more cases of COVID-19, raising the county number to 437. There have also been 13 deaths there.

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