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Thursday, 04 June 2020 18:48

PA Governor Extends COVID-19 Disaster Declaration

Written by Christen Smith, The Center Square
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf addresses COVID-19 mitigation strategies from his home office in March 2020. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf addresses COVID-19 mitigation strategies from his home office in March 2020. Pennsylvania Governor's Office

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf extended the state’s disaster declaration for COVID-19 another 90 days as legislation pends to terminate the order and curtail his authority over economic activity across the state. 

“Pennsylvanians have done a tremendous job flattening the curve and case numbers continue to decrease,” he said. “Renewing the disaster declaration helps state agencies with resources and supports as we continue mitigation and recovery.”

 

The move will likely further strain the relationship between the Democratic administration and the Republican majorities in the House and Senate dead set on reopening the state’s economy faster than Wolf’s phased plan allows.

 

The House voted 117-85 last week to send a resolution to the Senate that would end the first disaster declaration signed March 6 that Wolf says gives him broad, sweeping powers to shut down businesses and take enforcement action against those who don’t comply. Wolf said he would veto the resolution if it got to his desk.

 

As of June 5, all of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties will resume some level of economic activity, so long as social distancing is practiced and employees receive adequate personal protective equipment. Still, Republicans argue the immediate public danger has waned and unrest over rising jobless claims---more than 2 million as of June 4---threatens peace and stability across the state.

 

“The general public is growing increasingly angry about this,” said Rep. Russ Diamond, R-Lebanon, prime sponsor of the resolution. “If this continues, we could see the threat of civil unrest. The possibility of more damage being inflicted on this commonwealth by continuing this emergency rather than terminating is real.” 

 

Democrats have united behind the governor's decision, noting the state's reduction in COVID-19 cases is due, in large part, to his strict mitigation efforts. Others want to preserve the state's access to federal aid afforded through the emergency declaration.  

 

We thank The Center Square for reprint permission.  

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