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Gov. Wolf addresses minimum wage, COVID surge during Scranton visit

The governor says the pandemic is straining the healthcare system, as coronavirus case counts have been on the rise.

SCRANTON, Pa. — Standing in front of the John Mitchell statue outside the Lackawanna County Courthouse, Governor Tom Wolf joined lawmakers, calling for improvements to worker safety, benefits, and pay.

The governor says increasing Pennsylvania's minimum wage to $12 an hour and then $15 an hour could add $100 million to the state's general fund.

"Raising the minimum wage from unconscionably low levels to someplace where you can afford to actually live is not going to create inflation. It's actually going to create a healthier economy," Wolf said.

The annual inflation rate in the US climbed to 6.8% in November, the highest mark since 1982. 

The governor said inflation is happening as the country tries to transition out of the pandemic. 

Still, case COVID-19 cases are climbing in the commonwealth.

"If you look at Ohio, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, were all sort of in the same category, we're all up there," Wolf said. "It is frustrating to see this."

The governor said 17% of the cases in hospitals across the state are COVID cases, pointing to the flu, a backlog of elective procedures, and staffing issues as adding to the growing burden on the medical field.

"We have a lot of pressure being put on our healthcare system," he said. "It's something that as we head into the holiday season, I am concerned about."

Governor Wolf said a large majority of hospitalizations are unvaccinated.

"We have a way to avoid this getting worse, and that's called the vaccine," he said. "I would urge everybody to get the vaccine."

Pennsylvanians that are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are 60%, and 84% have received at least one dose.

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