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Schuylkill County tells governor, 'We're reopening'

Governor Wolf has not responded to the news of the county planning on going to the yellow phase of reopening without his permission.

Some lawmakers in Schuylkill County believe they are ready to move to the yellow phase. 

Lawmakers said effective Friday, the county will go yellow, meaning retail stores can open their doors as long they follow CDC guidelines.

"It will put small businesses on the same plane as big box stores," said Rep. Jerry Knowles.  "Big box stores are still open, and people are going."

So far, state officials have not given Schuylkill County the go-ahead to begin reopening.

However, on Saturday, Senator Dave Argall, Reps. Jerry Knowles and Mike Tobash and all three county commissioners drafted a letter to the governor announcing their plans to go yellow anyway.  

They cite adequate personal protective equipment and COVID-19 testings at hospitals in the area as their main reason. 

"Enough is enough," said Argall. "I think we can protect our health and protect our economy at the same time."

Earlier in the week, the same politicians, as well as Congressman Dan Meuser, local hospital officials, and members of the business community, drafted a first letter to the governor asking him to reconsider Schuylkill County's standing in the state reopening plan.  

That letter went unreturned.

"My email went from people asking me to people demanding me, not asking, to do something to get them back to work," Knowles said. "The yellow phase doesn't require businesses to reopen, but it does give them the option to allow customers inside if they feel it's safe."

And while politicians involved said they've felt pressure to take action, some people in Schuylkill County think defying the governor's orders is a bad idea.

"I think it's just too soon, the spread is airborne, so I think people should just keep staying home a little bit longer" If people keep on dying and dying, who's gonna be left to go in the stores," Greg Vereen of Allentown said.

"One day at a time, that's my motto one day at a time we'll get back to normal sooner or later," said Tamaqua resident Matt Coccil.

Governor Wolf has not responded to the news of the county planning on going yellow without his permission. 

Knowles said the county will move ahead with their plans even if there were repercussions from the state government announced. 

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