(HARRISBURG) – As Huntingdon County remains closed, local lawmakers demanded that the Governor stop allowing data from the State Correctional Institute – Huntingdon to skew the calculations and move the county toward reopening.
On May 15, additional Pennsylvania counties can begin to transition to reopening. However, the stay-at-home order will remain in effect for Huntingdon County after cases at the state-run correctional facility saw a surge in cases. The state Department of Health counts SCI data toward county totals even though it is a population that is isolated away from the community.
In addition, DOH revealed Thursday that the spike in numbers occurred after a “data dump” that resulted from tests by a third-party lab being delayed. The reconciliation caused the number of COVID positive patients at the prison to more than double while the number of cases outside of the prison remains at one.
The members of the General Assembly representing Huntingdon County issued the following statements:
“Continuing to hold Huntingdon County back due to COVID-19 cases that are occurring in the prison facility that is run by the Governor is unconscionable,” said Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-34). “The Governor continues to ignore the fact that the number of positive cases in the community are some of the lowest in the state. Keeping Huntingdon County closed is shortsighted and does more harm than good. People in this area want to get back to work and are capable of getting back to their lives safely. They need to be on the path toward yellow and ultimately green for a full reopening.”
“Every day we delay in reopening is another day that we risk seeing small business owners and their hard-working employees losing everything they have worked so hard to build,” said Senator Judy Ward (R-30). “These counties should have been included in the first round of reopenings. If you remove the inmate population from the total numbers, Huntingdon County has been on par with other counties that have moved into yellow near them. It is imperative that we get our businesses open again and we will be pressing the Governor to do just that.”
“Community spread from the facility is a concern, but to unfairly forbid Huntingdon County’s economy from moving forward is a mistake on the Governor’s part,” said state Rep. Rich Irvin (R-181). “If we do not get our economy moving very soon, we may not be able to help our many struggling or failing businesses. Our small business owners have reached their breaking point. Many are choosing to reopen in defiance of Governor Wolf. After being closed for such a long-extended period of time, I have the confidence in our citizens and business owners to make the correct choices while doing their part to ease the spread of COVID-19”