Jul. 09, 2020

HARRISBURG - Today, Westmoreland County Republican House members expressed surprise, deep concern and frustration over Department of Health Secretary Rachel Levine's recent threat to close restaurants and bars for the next two weeks in Westmoreland County.

The state legislators, including Reps. Mike Reese (R-Westmoreland/Somerset), Ryan Warner (R-Fayette/Westmoreland), George Dunbar (R-Westmoreland), Eric Nelson (R-Westmoreland), Eric Davanzo (R-Westmoreland) and Bob Brooks (R-Allegheny/Westmoreland) issued the following statement explaining that these businesses have met the Department of Health’s recommendations, successfully implemented the requested safety measures and have been unjustly targeted by the Wolf Administration.

“This administration should acknowledge that significant increases in testing may show additional positives, but that does not equate to increased hospitalizations, fatal incidents or public health risk.

“Healthy citizens are now getting this virus, they are responsibly staying at home with minor symptoms, are recovering and building herd immunity. Additionally, we have seen a decrease in fatality rates as our physicians are learning to better treat those with advanced conditions.

“Our hospitals are currently underutilized and treating only a handful of COVID-19 positive patients. For example, Excela Health reported it is currently treating just six COVID-19 patients across its three hospitals, while UPMC recently announced some of the lowest COVID-19 patient treatment numbers in the last several months.

“This overreaction by the Department of Health has once again shown the shifting of goalposts for the people of Westmoreland County. Our family restaurants and taverns have met their expectations to provide a safe and healthy environment for customers and are being unjustly targeted.

“We find it concerning that the administration has not been clear about whether they are separating antibody tests of people that may have been sick months ago from swab tests of those who may be currently ill. House members and staff have repeatedly asked the administration to provide numbers illustrating this difference, but those requests have been ignored.

“A two-week shutdown does nothing but hurt businesses, promote fear and infer that somehow restaurants are the problem. This action underscores the importance of ending the state of emergency and returning choice to the people.

“It is further perplexing that this decision was made and publicized with no notification to House members who represent Westmoreland County. This point alone demonstrates that the administration is acting against the will of Westmoreland County residents.”

The delegation requested an in-person meeting with the governor's office. The request has yet to be accepted.

Westmoreland County Republican Delegation
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Brooke Haskell