Thoughts on Allegheny Moving to Yellow Phase

Posted on May 14, 2020 · 3 mins read

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Local officials in Lancaster are expressing concern regarding Wolf’s proposal to move the county to “yellow” phase. They’re concerned we’re opening up too fast for political reasons – and I share a lot of that concern.

This is a very difficult decision, lives are on the line.

Many other countries have used universal testing – thermometer/temperature check followed by COVID test – along with deliveries to people’s homes instead of requiring them to go out for supplies, in order to contain the virus. Meanwhile, Wolf’s plans echo Republican proposals to simply recommend regularly cleaning businesses and wearing masks. I’m not sure that’s going to be enough.

Over 4000 people have died of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania in just the last two months, as of the date of this article. That’s much more than flu in a whole year. It’s more than the people lost in 9/11. And that’s even with distancing and stay-at-home; it would have been far greater if action wasn’t taken. It’s serious and I think we need to take it more seriously.

I still support expanded unemployment, ideally a monthly $2000 payment until the crisis is over, and canceling rent and mortgages. We need single payer healthcare to ensure everyone can see a doctor and get hospital treatment when needed, without worrying about becoming buried in debt. We need more community-led efforts to deliver supplies – food, medicine – to folks at their homes, I think that would be much safer than folks going into stores and touching everything. Other countries organized this, we can do it here too, just local and state officials don’t seem interested. They want to “go back to normal” instead of thinking what needs to change. That will be an attitude that comes back to haunt us if we don’t change course now. With better preparation we can definitely start re-opening, but I’m not convinced we’re really prepared. Even with preparation, many people have elevated risks and will never be able to “go back to normal” until a vaccine is available, so to protect them, we still need precautions.

I call on employers and officials to not rush people back to work, and to take precautions to protect workers’ health. State officials must take action to provide unemployment, cash and other assistance for all who are unable to work, either for safety/health reasons, or simply because many jobs have gone away and will not be coming back any time soon. We must ultimately work toward a Green New Deal to rebuild our economy and create thousands of new jobs to replace the ones lost during the global COVID-19-induced economic crisis.

UPDATE 5/15: The CDC has released “decision tools” for businesses to determine if it is safe for them to reopen, and what precautions must be taken if they do open. Please share these tools with small business!


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