Governor Wolf announced today the plan for Allegheny County to transition to the “green” COVID-19 response phase starting next Friday, June 5th.
I still have VERY strong concerns and reservations about this. As reported in Gazette 2.0, the majority of COVID-19 infections in the 15108 zip code so far were at the Caring Heights nursing home. Similarly, it was previously reported that COVID-19 was spreading rapidly in the county jail – both among detained individuals AND the workers at the jail. It makes sense – these are locations with very close quarters and poor ventilation, the perfect breeding ground for an infectious disease.
I’ve still not seen ANY comprehensive plan for universal testing by the county, state, or federal government. No plan to get mass testing supplies to facilities. Only recent talk of doing contact tracing. Without knowing exactly who is infected and where the hot spots actually are (not just the places that reported it) I’m very concerned the “green” phase will become a green light for acceleration of COVID infections and deaths again – which will also undo any and all economic benefit of trying to rush this opening that so many seem to be focused on. Coronavirus isn’t gone just because we’re moving to green phase – it’s out there and will be a problem until an effective treatment and/or vaccine are produced and widely available.
I call once again for all officials to take action to implement universal testing and proper quarantining procedures. With infectious disease experts telling us a “second wave” is likely, similar to what happened with the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1919, we MUST prepare now for that second wave. In addition, I renew my call for economic aid such as rent/mortgage freezes, student debt cancellation, expanded unemployment and assistance, and single payer healthcare for all. I also call for a Green New Deal to help rebuild our economy with good green infrastructure jobs.
In the meantime, even during “green” phase, please work from home if at all possible. If you must go out for job or other reasons, continue to wear a face mask and maintain distancing. Please remember that your mask is to protect others from you, just as much as protecting yourself – anyone can spread this virus, even if you don’t feel symptoms, and while you yourself may be lucky to not experience symptoms, it doesn’t mean everyone you come in contact with will be so lucky. 100,000 people have died nationwide, and that was with stay-at-home orders. This has the potential to get much worse if we are not careful. To save lives and protect the public, let’s keep up the masks and distancing.
Employers must recognize their role in stopping this pandemic, and allow working from home, flex hours, or other accommodations to prevent infection. Many businesses and offices are close quarters with poor ventilation, similar to the nursing home and jail, and the risk of quick spread is there if we don’t take it seriously.
Did you enjoy this article? Want to help Garret get elected? Please click below to volunteer or donate! Thank you for your support!