Good Tuesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
A Republican state lawmaker from Adams County says he wants to send Pennsylvanians back to work — despite a Wolf administration order mandating the shutdown of all “non-life sustaining” businesses.
In a memo seeking support for his plan, Sen. Doug Mastriano accused Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf of picking “winners and losers” with his shutdown order, and said the waiver process the administration had set up allowing business owners to appeal the order is “flawed, ineffective, lacks accountability, has no oversight, and is riddled with unconstitutional powers.”
As it’s currently written, Mastriano’s proposal would allow businesses to reopen their doors if they “[utilize] health and safety guidelines outlined by the Centers for Disease Control, and the U.S. Dept. of Labor’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration,” he said in a statement.
“This legislation will allow all businesses to reopen if they agree to abide by Centers for Disease Control mitigation measures to contain the spread of the virus,” Mastriano said.
Thousands of businesses have applied for waivers to the shutdown order. The administration has been forced to revoke waivers for businesses with ties to Wolf and Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson. Questions have also been raised about the uniformity and transparency of the process.
On Tuesday, the PA Post and Spotlight PA reported that Wolf’s former business has continued to operate despite having its waiver rescinded.
During a Monday briefing, Wolf acknowledged those inconsistencies, and said the state was doing the best it could to ensure the process was being applied fairly and uniformly.
“There are human beings making these decision so they get it wrong,” Wolf said. “Sometimes we uncover them and try to rectify them … We’re doing what we can to make sure the waivers are handed out in a consistent fashion. It’s also true that, from time to time, we have made mistakes.”
On Monday, Wolf put four more counties — Carbon, Cumberland, Dauphin and Schuylkill counties — under a stay-at-home order, bringing the statewide total to 22 counties. The order remains in effect until April 30. He also extended his shutdown orders for schools and non-essential businesses.
Asked Monday about Mastriano’s proposal, Wolf dismissed it, saying the state needed to do a “hard stop” as a matter of protecting public health and safety.
“We’re trying to make sure that Pennsylvanians are safe and employers and employees alike,” he said. “To the extent we can keep people from congregating, we’re bending the curve and buying time so we can get to the point where our healthcare system can accommodate the demand for services.”
Mastriano could not immediately be reached for comment. But in his statement, the central Pennsylvania lawmaker did say he believes it’s important for businesses to reopen — as long as it’s done safely.
“The closure order impacted tens of thousands of businesses, millions of jobs and puts at stake the economic well-being of our citizens,” he said. adding that single parent families, young couples, non-profits, small businesses and the independently-employed are among the hardest hit by the administration’s order.
On Monday, Wolf, meanwhile, said that while he wanted to see the state’s economy get back on its feet, the most immediate concern was flattening the curve of infection.
No sector of Pennsylvania’s economy has been left untouched by COVID-19, one expert has concluded. Stephen Caruso has the story.
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On our Commentary Page this morning, opinion regular Simon F. Haeder, of Penn State, and Kelli Caseman, of the nonprofit Think Kids, explain why it’s more important than ever right now not to let at-risk kids slip through the cracks. And opinion regular Mark O’Keefe says House Republicans put political advantage ahead of public health by insisting on holding a trio of special elections for state House earlier this month.
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Pennsylvania’s state-owned universities have continued a ban on in-person classes and internships through the summer, the Post-Gazette reports.
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With Pennsylvania schools closed indefinitely, officials at the PIAA are keeping winter championships and spring sports in limbo, the Morning Call reports.
Here’s your #Pittsburgh Instagram of the Day:
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What Goes On.
Time TBA: Daily COVID-19 briefing.
It was only a matter of time before we made a quarantine playlist of our own. So here’s the one we put together over the weekend. Play this one loud. We sure did.
Tuesday’s Gratuitous Pop Music History Fact.
Today in 1943, the immortal “Oklahoma!” by Rodgers and Hammerstein debuted on Broadway. Fun fact: Its original title was “Away We Go.”
And now you’re up to date.