LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. — Elected officials from all levels of government representing Lancaster County have joined together to unveil a comprehensive plan to safely begin reopening the county, according to State Senator Ryan Aument (R-36).
In a letter sent to Governor Wolf, the elected officials outlined a detailed roadmap explaining how they intend to both protect public health and restart the local economy in a safe, data-informed manner.
“It is clear from the Governor’s own reopening plan that each region of Pennsylvania is unique, and therefore requires individualized plans to mitigate the impact of this virus on both public health and the economy,” Aument said, according to a release. “Lancaster County has demonstrated time and time again that our leaders are able to find local solutions to local problems through collaboration. "
Offical say the plan includes a comprehensive, four-pronged strategy for protecting the county’s most vulnerable residents in nursing homes and long-term living facilities.
The reopening plan was developed with municipal, county, state and federal elected officials in partnership with the private sector business community and non-profits, according to officials.
Officials also say this was exacerbated by orders handed down from the state Department of Health coupled with a lack of oversight from the Department, the soaring case counts in these isolated facilities have thus far prevented the county from advancing to the yellow phase of the Governor’s reopening plan.
The elected officials point out in their letter that when appropriately accounting for the data from high risk populations that can be safely isolated and provided further protections, such as prisons and nursing homes, Lancaster County's positive cases drop dramatically.
The Lancaster County reopening plan will be overseen by a working group consisting of representatives of all hospital systems in Lancaster County, the Hospital Association of PA, the Lancaster County Emergency Management Agency, County Commissioners, state legislative delegation, Congressman Smucker, the PA Department of Health, and others.
According to officials, this working group was established at the outset of this crisis and will continue to convene a weekly conference call to review data and metrics, discuss issues and ways to work together to safely reopen the economy in a way that will not jeopardize public health.
Officials say the framework has been developed to deploy a direct allocation of $95 million of CARES Act Title V funds that was granted to the county to advance the shared goals of:
- Protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the County,
- Maintaining public service continuity of operations and emergency response, and
- Reopening and supporting the local economy so that individuals, families, and businesses can once again thrive.
Officials say the undersigned recognizes that the decision to reopen the county’s economy means ensuring that the business community, the backbone of the economy, is ready from both a public health and financial standpoint.
The Lancaster Economic Development Company and Chamber of Commerce has also developed the Lancaster County Economic Recovery plan.
“This comprehensive plan to reopen Lancaster County is consistent with many of the measures that I have personally voted for and supported in the Senate these last few months,” Aument said. “Restoring local control of the pandemic response, protecting public health, promoting collaboration and transparency, and restoring our local economy are goals that I’ve been focused on since the outset of this crisis, and as such, I am proud to work with other Lancaster County elected officials and experts to advance such a thorough plan to achieve these goals at the local level.”
Aument also wants to remind Lancaster County residents that he values their feedback and input during this difficult time encourages constituents to participate in his Restore & Reimagine PA initiative.
Over the next few months, Aument will be collecting feedback from Lancaster County residents – their thoughts, ideas, challenges, and solutions – to issues that they see and experience firsthand in their communities, schools, businesses, and families.
“I have always said throughout my time in the General Assembly that the residents of Lancaster County are my greatest resource to helping me do my job well. With your input, I’m confident that we can restore, rebuild, and reimagine a stronger Pennsylvania together,” Aument said.
As local businesses begin the process of reopening, new guidelines are available to ensure safe operations. Businesses that have questions about guidelines are encouraged to contact the Department of Health at 1-877-724-3258. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control also has updated guidance for child care centers to protect children, staff, and families from COVID-19.
Officials advise that businesses should also be aware of Lancaster County District Attorney Heather Adams’ statement that her office will not prosecute any citations for alleged criminal violations of the orders and directives of the Governor’s administration regarding the operation of non-life sustaining businesses.
This means that her office can only address the criminal penalties associated with the Governor’s orders and regulations, and offers no opinion and takes no position on the weighty civil or administrative penalties that may be imposed on any business found to be non-compliant according to the Department of Health.
Officials say any questions regarding the specifics of the Lancaster County plan or legal enforcement of the Governor’s orders should be directed to the Lancaster County Commissioners office or the Lancaster County District Attorney’s office.