Editor’s Note: The following are remarks by Commissioner Chairman Dan Camp made at a press conference held at the courthouse at noon today. His statement was joined by Commissioners Jack Manning and Tony Amadio. Camp’s comments are being published in full as written by the commissioner for delivery.
Last evening I, along with my fellow board of commissioners, were notified by Governor Tom Wolf’s office that Beaver County will be the only western Pennsylvania county to remain in the red phase for his Process to Reopen Pennsylvania.
While the Governor has consistently preached a regional approach to reopening, it has become evident that his previous comments were merely another example of saying one thing & doing another.
The Board of Commissioners can no longer stand here on ‘mute’ and disregard the multiple emails, texts and phone calls we receive from our residents and business owners asking for our help in re-opening our county.
These same calls for help come with assurances that they will follow the mandated CDC guidelines.
The governor’s double-talk means that BC finds itself singled-out as the only Western Pennsylvania county in his administration’s red category, surrounded by a sea of yellow counties. Not to mention the surrounding counties in Ohio & WV both of which have less restrictive economic measures than even the yellow phase counties.
When the Governor’s plan goes into effect, the stark reality is an invisible wall surrounding and isolating Beaver County residents and businesses. But yet he and his administration believes it’s ok for our residents to traverse to our surrounding neighbors’ place of businesses and do what we would normally do here. Really Governor! Our business owners and residents cannot become prisoners in our county because of this unwarranted double-talk. As Beaver Countians, we are divided by its rivers but united by our people and shall be afforded the same opportunities as residents and businesses separated by a paper line on a map.
We do not believe that our residents should be mandated to continue to live on an exiled economic island forcing them to spend money outside of our County furthering the economic destruction of our proud local businesses.
Our restaurants, retail stores and other businesses closed to the public will undoubtedly continue to suffer, as a direct result of this Administration’s unwarranted and irrational decision.
We say this decision is unwarranted and irrational because our hospital systems are not being overrun with by Covid-19 patients nor is there some communal spread within our community. And, those are the ignored facts!
The Governor’s unwarranted and irrational decision is simply based solely on one outbreak in one BC nursing home.
The challenges at this home have been heart-wrenching & very well documented as we are in constant communications with them.
It’s no secret that nearly 70% of our Covid-19 cases & more than 90% of Beaver County’s Covid-19 related deaths are attributed to one nursing home within the County.
And before it’s even mentioned that “well the staff members are in the community.”
Let’s get one thing straight, the Drs. and nurses working at this home, and the multiple others within our county, have been nothing short of heroic.
They have taken extreme cautions in protecting their colleagues, their families and our communities from the spread of the virus.
These medical professionals are modern-day heroes, pure and simple, and in no way shape or form should they be used as poster children to keep Beaver County in the red phase.
Furthermore, this nursing home outbreak isn’t a new development, it’s been going on for weeks but the Wolf Administration’s irrational decision to sit on the sidelines at the beginning & the Department of Health’s failed oversight has now resulted in that same Administration punishing all of Beaver County due to their own failures.
Now if that seems harsh, just look at the “Interim Guidance for Nursing Homes during the COVID-19” which was published by PA Department of Health on March 18th, it stated:
“Nursing care facilities must continue to accept new admission a receive re-admissions for current residents who have been discharged from the hospital who are stable to alleviate the increasing burden in the acute care settings. This may include stable patients who have had the COVID-19 virus.”
And it is this administration that unilaterally decided to cancel all inspections for nursing homes during this pandemic.
From day one nursing homes across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania were set up to fail this administration and its Deptartment of Health.
And because of these failures, Beaver County residents, workers & businesses are being sucker-punched – and being sentenced to economic punishment – not for anything done by the great people of this county.
Because our residents have shown relentless courage to help their neighbors – our streetscapes and businesses have been empty for weeks – and while every other county in western PA gets ready to transition out of this crisis, we have been singled out, because of one, isolated nursing home outbreak that the PA Department of Health utterly failed to offer immediate assistance.
So, given the unwarranted, irrational and punitive effects of a decision by Gov. Wolf, the Board of Commissioners shall stand behind our District Attorney in his decision not to prosecute any case against a business that chooses to open following the mandated guidelines as laid out in the yellow phase of reopening PA.
We are certain our residents and business owners will be thankful for this united stance and ask all of you who had reached out to us to also stand with us in successfully moving our county out of the red phase.
With that being said, we implore any and all businesses that choose to open or may open in the near future, to please follow the mandatory guidelines from the CDC.
This united stance — not to dedicate finite resources to prosecute businesses merely for operating within the same guidelines as every other western Pennsylvania county, should not be viewed by anyone to self-regulate — but to take responsible actions that are in the best interest of our community and in accordance to the CDC mandated guidelines.