Federal data shows pandemic restrictions forced three in 10 businesses statewide to close, at least temporarily, ranking Pennsylvania second only to Michigan in terms of economic lockdown impacts.
Still, the number of businesses that received federal aid in Pennsylvania for complying with these closures didn’t even crack the top 20, leaving many employees seeking jobless benefits in a system too crowded to handle the influx of workers---more than 1.2 million in March and April alone---witnessed at the onset of the pandemic.
Sen. Camera Bartolotta, R-Monongahela, blamed one person alone for the state’s lagging economy---Gov. Tom Wolf.
“The statistics clearly show the Wolf Administration forced too many businesses to close, kept those businesses closed for far too long, and did not do enough to help the business owners and employees who were deeply affected by the Administration’s unilateral orders,” she said. “We all recognize that certain precautions must be taken during a pandemic, but Gov. Wolf’s mismanagement of the response to this crisis over the past several months is a big reason why many Pennsylvanians have zero faith in the decisions he is making now.”
Those decisions---including a three-week ban on indoor dining and drinking, youth sports and extracurricular activities and gatherings of more than 10 people---came last week as COVID-19 hospitalizations eclipsed 5,500. That number exceeded 6,000 as of Dec. 15 as Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said more than half of the state’s 509,000 cases have only been diagnosed within the last six weeks.
“The situation is dire,” Wolf said Dec. 10. “It’s worse than it was in the spring [when] we had to flatten the curve.”
He said the latest measures, set to expire Jan. 4, 2021, will help accomplish three goals: slowing the virus’s spread, prevent case loads from overwhelming hospitals and ensure residents survive the holiday season as “we move closer to a widely available vaccine---as safely as possible.”
“It’s not the government that’s doing this,” he said last week. “It’s not me. It’s dictated by the virus.”
Levine said Dec. 14 the continued restrictions on restaurants and bars---decimated by nine months of pandemic regulations---are based on science...