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Schuylkill County planning to re-open, defying state orders

Elected officials in Schuylkill County released a copy of a letter they sent to Governor Wolf Saturday.
Credit: WNEP

SCHUYLKILL COUNTY, Pa. — A group made up of elected officials released a letter addressed to Governor Tom Wolf Saturday.

The letter was in regard to the governor's three-phase plan to re-open the state following closures from the COVID-19 pandemic and is no longer asking the governor to consider their re-opening plans.

Credit: WNEP

Members of a group called the Schuylkill Response, Renewal, and Recovery Team sent this letter to Governor Wolf.

The letter says the county will reopen to the yellow phase next Friday, despite not reaching the Department of Health's benchmark to reopen. 

Jessica Hannis owns Kowalonek's Kielbasy Shop in Shenandoah. The shop reopened last week after voluntarily closing its doors at the start of the pandemic.

Hannis thinks it's time for people to get back to work.

"I certainly think it's a step in the right direction. We are really not 100-percent categorized with all those other counties that are in red with us. We just haven't seen it to the extremes. So I certainly think we are ready to move out of the red," said Jessica Hannis, Kowalonek's Kielbasy Shop.

Members of the team are business owners, industry and non-profit leaders, and government officials.

The letter to Harrisburg reads in part:

"We have heard the pleas of our residents who desire the ability to safely re-open their businesses and safely return to work. Schuylkill County plans to move forward and will require businesses who are ready to re-open to follow CDC guidelines"

The letter goes on to say that hospitals in the county are not overwhelmed, PPE and testing supplies are also available.

Some business owners in the county say as long as people keep up with social distancing and hand sanitizing, partially reopening shouldn't be a problem.

"Listen going from red to yellow doesn't change a lot. I have a lot of faith in our local businesses and residents to use common sense and do what is right. I have a lot of faith that they will be able to balance social responsibility but also make sure that we follow the CDC guild lines to ensure the safety of our businesses, our employees, and also the guests that we serve," said Savas Logothetides, Wheel Restaurant.

Newswatch 16 reached out to the governor's office along with the group in Schuylkill County. However, we have not heard back.

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