Cumberland County Commissioners clarify position on moving into yellow phase ahead of Wolf administration's approval

In a letter to residents Monday, the commissioners said they "are not promoting or advocating any actions that are openly defiant of the state of emergency."

CUMBERLAND COUNTY, Pa. — The Cumberland County Commissioners Office released an open letter to residents Monday clarifying its position on re-opening the county before it has reached "Yellow Phase" status as determined by the administration of Governor Tom Wolf.

Last week, it was reported that the commissioners planned to inform Wolf they were exploring options to move the county into the Yellow Phase. They reportedly directed the county solicitor to identify if the county has any legal basis to re-open the county by overriding the governor's emergency declaration. 

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Monday's letter from the Office of the Cumberland County Commissioners clarified their position.

The letter reads: 

"On behalf of the Board of Commissioners, we would like to clarify our position on the issue of COVID-19 and the current state of emergency for Cumberland County. At this time the county remains in the Red Phase.

Cumberland County is currently not moving toward a unilateral “re-opening,” in the manner that some other counties have announced. This move, we are advised, has no legal basis, and would not stand up, and could actually endanger the business licenses of those who defy the state of emergency declaration. 

We are committed to a reopening that can last, and have a sustained success for the community. We hope that is soon. Cumberland County needs to open at the right time, and in the right manner. We are however, researching the options available to us, as reported in the media, both from a legal and a practical standpoint, as a decision nears on how, and when, to move the county toward safe re-opening.

Several key steps remain to ensure that move; especially in terms of implementing safeguards for our vulnerable populations, who will continue to require protection, after the majority of us can return to a more “normal” amount of mobility and public activity. We will continue to closely evaluate the steps as needed over the next few days.

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Today, we will be submitting a letter to the Governor urging him to fully consider the economic vitality needs of our communities as a key piece of the decisions on restrictions. 

We are, however, not promoting or advocating any actions that are openly defiant of the state of emergency, nor are we encouraging individuals or businesses to break the law.

These actions will likely prove detrimental in reaching the safe solution that is needed as soon as it’s feasible. There is a huge difference between “taking action,” and taking effective action. We need to be smart, as well as persistent.

Throughout this crisis, Cumberland County has maintained close and productive relations with the Department of Health, PEMA, as well as ongoing communications with Governor Wolf’s Office.

While we do not agree with all the decisions made at the state level, and acknowledge the role of our legislature in maintaining appropriate checks and balances, our experience has been that the state’s support at many levels has been invaluable, and we hope it will continue as we move closer into crisis recovery mode."