Here’s Pa. comeback opportunity from the pandemic | Opinion

RICHMOND, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 13: A Costco customer stands by his two shopping carts at a Costco store on March 13, 2020 in Richmond, California. Some Americans are stocking up on food, toilet paper, water and other items after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Coronavirus (COVID-19) a pandemic. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

By Rob Mercuri

The tone of conversations in homes and on Zoom calls across the Commonwealth this week has shifted dramatically.

We have moved from uncertainty and fear to a new enthusiasm to return to work, coupled with the cautious hope that things may not be as bad as the dire early statistical models.

We have crested the outbreak’s peak, improved testing programs, expanded hospital capacity, and successfully treated countless patients.

While our state’s death toll has passed 2,400 people, and confirmed cases surpass 50,000, it is becoming clear that by following CDC guidelines, Pennsylvania has flattened the curve. Now that the health crisis is beginning to abate, the economic crisis must be urgently addressed. And parts of the state will begin to reopen later this week.

The latest on COVID-19 in Pa.: 50,092 confirmed cases in 67 counties

Millions of Pennsylvania workers are now unemployed. Thousands of businesses are in limbo. Schools are fighting to keep students engaged. It’s time to focus on recovery, return Pennsylvanians to the work force, and prepare for our comeback.

A new national unity has taken shape from the ashes of this crisis. Whether it prevails, and shapes our future, depends on the public discourse in the coming days and weeks. Will we extend to those in need the same way we did during the crisis? Will our leaders forego the bitter, partisan tradition that has poisoned state and national politics in recent years?

Accountability starts at the top.

Gov. Tom Wolf can encourage unity and continued participation of Pennsylvania’s citizens in his new recovery plan by increasing transparency about his process for reopening the state.

Republican legislative leaders are offering support and thus far have been rebuffed, notably the governor’s ill-advised veto of Senate Bill 613 which would have provided a unified framework for economic recovery.

America’s families are eager to get back to work and put food on tables and restore the dignity of their professional working lives.  Unity during this time will enable action where to date there has been only slow progress.

We are the generation that will define what this American Comeback looks like.

I’m hopeful that it takes on a strong and historic form. The Liberty Bell comes to mind: something cracked but not broken – an icon of a people’s resilience, whether it meant standing on Lexington Green or staying home to allow a plague to pass.

The America that comes back in 2020 will either be stronger and better and more unified, ready to reengage in the world and restart the economic turbo engine it once was – or, it will be ever and sadly more divisive, ripped apart by the politicizing of something as non-partisan as a virus.

Let’s begin this journey together and unite to get Pennsylvania working again.

Rob Mercuri is the Republican candidate for Allegheny County’s 28th House District. In accordance with the Capital-Star’s policy of allowing candidates one letter or op-Ed per campaign cycle, he will not appear on the Commentary Page again until after the June 2 primary.