Beaver Co. DA Says Businesses Will Not Be Prosecuted That Reopen

The county will remain in red phase, A majority of the cases and deaths have been at one rehab center

Andrew Limberg
May 08, 2020 - 3:01 pm
Beaver County Coronavirus

PA Department of Health

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BEAVER, Pa. (Newsradio 1020 KDKA) - Beaver County officials are frustrated they are not able to move into the Yellow phase.

They believe they are being singled out and that a large number of the counties cases and deaths have occurred at one location, the Brighton Rehabilitation and Wellness Center.

Governor Wolf said during a news conference Friday that are “keeping tab(s)” on surrounding counties that remain closed and “hope to make a decision very soon.”

Wolf says there are still concerns with numbers in counties like Beaver.

Beaver County officials have said they will act like they are in the yellow phase and that the District Attorney in the county will not prosecute businesses that violate the stay-at-home order.

When asked about the statement made by Beaver Co. Officials, Governor Wolf said, “I think you’re jeopardizing lives . . . in our opinion the time is not right, I think it’s soon in Beaver County’s case . . . so if they go ahead and do that they are taking a chance, taking a chance with the lives and residents of Beaver County and I think I’d be a little careful in doing that.”

State Representative Josh Kail (R) who represents Beaver and Washington Counties released a statement saying he is “outraged” Beaver remains in the red phase.

“Beaver County should be in yellow. Outside of one nursing facility that is overseen by the Department of Health (DOH), we have well under 200 cases. Our small businesses are suffering, our workers are not getting paid and our hospital system is nearing financial ruin,” Kail said.

Kail along with Republican Reps. Jim Marshall and Aaron Bernstine have sent a letter to Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine expressing their concern about the “reckless” way the department has handled oversight at Brighton.

“The Department of Health – through its lack of response to many requests, inquiries and suggestions that I and others have offered – mandated COVID-19 patients be taken back into Brighton Rehab. More than 60 residents died,” Kail explained.

“The only action from the department regarding the situation we’re facing has been to prohibit the rest of Beaver County, even though it has very few cases, from starting to reopen,” Kail added. “If the potential spread is so dire that we have to shutter businesses and prohibit people from earning a living to feed their families, wouldn’t ways to protect the most vulnerable at least warrant a response?

“Additionally, why would the governor release prisoners from jails across the state citing the danger of viral spread in enclosed facilities, yet force the most vulnerable who are sick and elderly nursing home residents to return to enclosed facilities? We sent two letters in March to the DOH citing two facilities where sick seniors could be temporarily placed and cared for while the most vulnerable among us could have been protected, yet no action was taken,” Kail explained.

Democratic Rep. Rob Matize also made a statement encouraging Wolf and the state to allow Beaver to move into the yellow phase.

“Beaver County remaining in COVID red status, due to inflated numbers from one nursing home, makes zero sense. I’ve been urging the administration, for over a month, to intervene in the dire situation at Brighton Rehab. I directly informed the Department of Health of my concerns about the lack of transparency with residents, families and the public.

“So now, a facility that is responsible for nearly 70% of our county’ total cases, is being used as a reason to hold us back? It’s unacceptable.

“We took the directive - stay calm, stay home, stay safe – to heart. We social distanced, wore masks and gloves.

“Our businesses suffered; our workers suffered. But we did it to help protect the health and well-being of our friends, families and neighbors. And while far too many of our people tragically died, that tragedy could have been far, far worse. We are ready to move forward. We are ready to start our recovery. We must continue to utilize necessary safeguards to protect ourselves and those we may be in contact with for the foreseeable future. We are ready to safely and responsibly move to the yellow phase.   

“I’ve already asked privately, so now I’ll make the request publicly. Governor Wolf and Secretary Levine, it’s time to move Beaver County to yellow status.”

As of Friday, May 8, 479 people have tested positive for COVID-19, 78 have died and 2,380 have tested negative.