It looks like Wyoming County is going to be allowed to reopen business on a limited scale come May 22.
The county began publicly lobbying for a move from the red phase to the less restrictive yellow phase two weeks ago, arguing that its coronavirus case load met a key state threshold and other factors. The yellow phase ends stay-at-home orders and allows more businesses to operate, instead of only essential and life-sustaining ones.
Democratic Commissioner Ernie King said that he got a call from the governor’s office late Thursday afternoon that the county would be changing from the red to yellow phase on May 22, and the governor’s office made it official Friday, also opening up Susquehanna and Wayne Counties in the northeast region.
“It’s very good news,” King said. “We’ve been having a heck of a time getting our point across. We’ve had very few cases.”
Commissioner Tom Henry said a directive would be forwarded by the governor’s office to area businesses about what the reopening order would mean, so they could prepare for opening a week later.
It capped a day which started around 9 a.m. with some 80 persons marching through the downtown Tunkhannock business district, and then assembling for Round 2 of a protest to register their displeasure that Wyoming County was continuing to be unresponded to by Gov. Tom Wolf to reopen business, despite pleading from elected officials and the Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce.
Though the crowd was about half of those who showed up a week earlier, people were no less committed to the idea that something needed to be done.
Organizer George Yuhas said it was important to continue taking a stand.
“I don’t agree with the governor’s position. It seems so ambiguous and so arbitrary,” he said.
The three Wyoming County commissioners were in an advertised public meeting at some distance away at the same time as the morning rally and could not be present.
“Please understand that we stand with you,” Rick Wilbur wrote on behalf of himself and the other two commissioners in a statement read by Dakota Wilson, a member of a local farm family.
“We continue to be disappointed. We asked him to give us a road map, and there still is no response,” Wilbur is quoted as saying.
Yuhas was defiant in his language to a crowd that was also obviously angry, with people shouting, “They’re using this to keep us under control, why doesn’t Wolf read the Constitution, and why is it that WalMart keeps open while smaller businesses have to suffer?”
“If we wait, people will
be ruined,” Yuhas said. “But, we’re praying that tomorrow is the day that we in Wyoming County are put in the yellow phase so we can open back up.”