May. 22, 2020

MONROE COUNTY – Reps. Rosemary Brown (R-Monroe/Pike), Jack Rader (R- Monroe) and Mike Peifer (R-Pike/Wayne) and Sens. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne/Pike/Susquehanna/Wayne/Wyoming) and Mario Scavello (R-Monroe/Northampton) sent a letter to the Wolf Administration urging the governor to move Monroe and Pike counties into the yellow phase of the governor’s reopening plan.

The text of the letter follows:

Dear Honorable Governor Wolf:   

As you begin to transition counties to less restrictive orders, we would like to strongly bring your attention to Monroe and Pike Counties readiness to transition to the ‘Yellow Phase’, utilizing your stated metrics. Your most objective measure, 50 cases per 100,000 residents over a 14-day period, seems to be a reasonable criterion. However, with a population of 170,271, Monroe County needs to be below 85 new cases while Pike, with a population of each county are probably dramatically understated because of the number of out-of-staters who moved here to weather the storm the minute the pandemic began.  Both counties have done an amazing job of minimizing the spread of the virus. The metrics show both counties are on the cusp of your required numbers - using the pre-COVID populations.   

For the more subjective measures, it is pertinent that you accept the accurate information from local state lawmakers. As state senators and representatives, we are deeply connected to our people, communities, local infrastructure and operating measures. We believe these two counties currently have adequate active COVID-19 and antibody testing available that will continue to grow as we move forward, being offered by the mass public testing site at Mohegan Sun Pocono Arena, our local hospital systems, Rite-Aid, Walmart and through physician orders. It is also important to recognize that there may be distorted metrics occurring with combining test results of current infections verses if someone has had the virus.  These metrics could be inflating our case numbers that are being utilized for quantitative guidelines on reopening our community and economies.   

Our Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) has received priority and also continues to grow and be prioritized and delivered in an organized manner, especially focusing on our higher risk long - term care facilities. Since the statewide tragedy of COVID-19 which accounted nearly 70% of our state’s deaths to long-term care and nursing homes residents, there is now a much stronger attention to these facilities in all areas of our state.  I am sure you are also aware that the House passed The Senior Protection Act, aimed to use regional health system collaboratives to better manage personnel, protocols, testing and expenditures to protect the vulnerable residents of these facilities in the future; appropriating $500 million in federal funding, which we hope you support.   Though your metrics do not include a review of a county’s healthcare infrastructure, we believe this is vital to address when making assessments.

Fortunately, this region hosts excellent hospital systems who all handled the influx of COVID-19 cases admirably. Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Health originally called upon East Stroudsburg University to be a potential overflow facility – a location that never saw a patient; confirmation of the resilient medical care available to our region’s residents.   Most importantly, Monroe and Pike counties should be extremely proud of the progress they have made as a region. In mid-March, there was strong concern for these counties’ high case numbers, but it is clear they have achieved the goal of “flattening the curve”. We truly believe this is a testament to the strong sense of social responsibility and adherence to scientific, CDC, guidelines. We have no doubt this concern will remain in our region and state however, Monroe and Pike counties are committed to moving forward with health and economics balanced as safely as possible.  The Pocono Mountains Visitor Bureau has also engaged our businesses and community to pledge responsible operations and measures for all to deliver a balanced lifestyle we deserve and need at this time.     

It is with great urgency that we request Monroe and Pike counties transition to the ‘Yellow Phase’ on Saturday, May 23rd for the residents’ health, economic, mental and societal well-being.

Kind regards,

Rep. Rosemary M. Brown
Rep. Mike Peifer
Rep. Jack Rader Jr. 
Sen. Mario Scavello 
Sen. Lisa Baker

Representative Rosemary Brown
189th Legislative District

Representative Jack Rader
176th Legislative District

Representative Mike Peifer
139th Legislative District
PA House of Representatives