Gov. Tom Wolf announced that Bradford County will move to the “green phase” of his reopening plan on May 29 during a press conference on Friday.
Eight additional counties will move to yellow and 16 others to green, effective at 12:01 a.m., May 29. All remaining counties in red are expected to move to yellow by June 5 at 12:01 a.m.
“We know not only that we succeeded in slowing case growth, but that our actions, our collective decisions to stay at home and avoid social contact – we know that saved lives,” Gov. Wolf said.
Bradford County has recorded 43 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19, and three deaths have been attributed to the virus.
“I’m very thankful that we’re moving to green,” Commissioner Daryl Miller said. “We need to get back to our normal lives and our normal activities as quickly as we possibly can. We need to get businesses going. We need to get people’s incomes being regenerated. We need to get back to work.”
Miller and Commissioner Doug McLinko passed a resolution last week that said they would not prosecute Bradford County businesses that opened during the “yellow phase” — declaring Wolf’s decision to do so unconstitutional.
“There was a lot of concern about, even in the yellow state, about how devastating this is, and how this is affecting their bottom lines from a business standpoint and an income standpoint, and an ability to continue to support their employees,” Miller said.
Miller said he is expecting additional guidance from Harrisburg, and will issue it to businesses as it becomes available, as well as discuss it during Thursday’s Commissioners meeting.
“We’ll be able to make heightened awareness as to the states we’re going to be transitioning to then,” he said.
“We’re going to push out all the information we can to businesses and citizens of Bradford County, as to what this green phase means, and what needs to be done — being mindful that we need to do it in a safe manner. But we also need to get back to doing business too.”
Miller expressed his confidence in a safe reopening, citing the low number of cases and related deaths in Bradford County.
“The numbers have been low. They remain low,” he said. “You can’t ignore the danger. There’s a risk. But we also have to be aware that we’ve got to conduct our lives and get back to business and back to work.”
“I think everybody has done an outstanding job of doing what needed to be done,” Miller added.
The case rate in Pennsylvania has dropped approximately 50 percent since May 8, according to Gov. Wolf. The state has seen a total of 62,258 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19, and 4,984 related deaths.”
“We need to start moving forward,” said Miller. “I know that as a county, we can do this. We can move ahead … and do it in a safe manner.”
OWEGO — On April 29, Tioga County Legislative Chairwoman Martha Sauerbrey began hosting weekly press briefings intended to carry important news out into the community. Each briefing, held on Wednesdays at the Legislative Auditorium in Owego, welcomed county representatives to answer questions and discuss matters surrounding COVID-19 in Tioga County.
During this week’s briefing, and just days prior to the start of Phase 1 openings in Owego, Sauerbrey told the media in attendance that it would be her last press conference.
This news came with the announcement of 122 cases, as of the briefing, and an increase in recoveries.
Of those recoveries, she noted, some of them are happening at Elderwood.
“Some of the best things I’ve seen are the recoveries,” Sauerbrey said. “It’s a celebration.”
And as the Chair of the County’s Legislature, Sauerbrey wanted to emphasize that the beginning of Phase 1 does not signal the loosening up of social distancing and other restrictions.
Tioga County Health Department spokesperson Kylie Holachak addressed the media about the county’s case numbers, noting that a lot of the cases they are seeing are resulting from gatherings and within households.
She also added that the department now has 15 people that are assigned as contact tracers — workers that will contact people that have been in contact with a person that tested positive for coronavirus.
She gave a shoutout to the public, stating that if they want to help, they can use the Notes App to track where they go, they can take photos of places; but most importantly, she added, practice social distancing guidelines, wear a face covering or mask, wash your hands and avoid social gatherings.
With things moving forward, the county’s brief also welcomed Shawn Yetter, commissioner of Tioga County’s Department of Social Services.
According to Yetter, the department has a kiosk it operates from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and a waiting area if things can’t be settled by phone at (607) 687-3800.
“Many things can be done without coming in,” said Yetter.
He did note, however, that 20 Court St. is now open for child support and continues to conduct functions of oversight for the elderly by calling (607) 687-8550.
With school closures, Yetter noted that if someone is concerned about a child(ren), they should call 1-800-342-3720. He also noted that PINS is still available for anyone dealing with teens. Yetter also encouraged those that can to consider becoming a foster parent. Call Angela at 687-8346 for more information.
Finally, Yetter talked about a grim subject on unemployment claims, which totaled 2,800 for Tioga County at the time of the brief. He reminded residents to contact Tioga County’s career center at (607) 687-8483.
Finally, Tioga County Economic Development Director LeeAnn Tinney talked about the different phases of opening, but cautioned that things tend to change every day.
For now, phase one opened last Friday and included construction, agriculture, and more. Albany later added auto maintenance and service, pet grooming and others, to include retail for drive-thru or pick up.
Phase 2, which opens May 29, includes the retail shops, administrative support services, and much needed hair salons and barber shops. Where massage therapists fell on that list was still to be determined.
Phase 3, which could begin on June 12, if all goes well, includes restaurants while Phase 4, scheduled for June 26, looks at plans for schools and gatherings.
“Essential employees have to have a plan,” said Tinney.
The best place to go for the information is Tioga County’s website, www.tiogacountyny.com/programs-agencies/covid19/, Tinney added.
WAVERLY — The Waverly VFW Post 8104 and American Legion is looking forward to a small Memorial Day ceremony at noon on Monday at Muldoon Park.
“We plan to honor all fallen veterans, especially the Korean War vets, as this year is the 70th anniversary of the start of the Korean War,” VFW Post Commander Will Chaffee said. “We were looking forward to having a bigger event, but with the pandemic, this is all we can do.”
Chaffee said that they didn’t want the pandemic to stop observation of the holiday, and that the Waverly Police Department is on board with the event as long as the gathering stays small, and social distancing protocol is followed.
NORTH TOWANDA TOWNSHIP — A request for conditional/preliminary approval for a four-building apartment complex in South Waverly has been tabled by the Bradford County Planning Board.
The multi-family dwelling units are proposed to be built along Loder Street in South Waverly and will develop approximately six acres of an 11.55 acre plot into four apartment buildings with supporting infrastructure.
The buildings are slated for 96 parking spaces and the proposed entrance is from Loder Street and will connect with Mystic Drive.
The board, which met on Tuesday, cited outstanding items needed for approval with South Waverly Borough for the tabling. The land development request for conditional/preliminary approval by Frandsen Real Estate LLC will be reviewed again in June’s meeting.
Also in the meeting, Bradford County Planning Director Matt Williams provided updates on two outstanding violations in the county.
The first, Four Friends LLC in Wysox Township, is currently working toward a resolution with the county. The property in violation is located behind the Subway and Smokin’ Joe’s plaza on the Golden Mile in Wysox. Williams said in the meeting that the violation dates back to 2010 and that construction took place on a project after the approval exceeded five years. Correspondence with the responsible party was not reciprocated with the county until recently.
The second, DC Raucher in Ulster Township, took place in 2016. The property in question had eight acres of earth disturbance with no permits. Williams said the violation is in need of compliance but that there has been a “disconnect” between them and the county.
Williams also took time in the meeting to congratulate Megan Johnson on her recent promotion to Planning & Grants Administrator.
Originally, the grants coordinator position held by Amanda Boyer was to be reorganized into the Community Planning and Mapping Services Department when the completion of the Bradford County Public Safety Center took place. But Boyer departed the position in the beginning of April to take a position with the PA Department of Community and Economic Development before the completion of the building took place.
“Amanda’s departure sped this process up and resulted in the reclassification of Megan Johnson to assume the role of Planning & Grants Administrator,” Williams said.
Johnson is a Towanda native, recently completed her degree in Environmental Geography at Mansfield University and has been the Planning Administrative Assistant since June of 2017.
“Megan has been an exemplary employee who has seamlessly managed her current duties while finishing her degree as a full time student and attaining dean’s list honors multiple times,” Williams added. “We have no doubt that Megan will continue the excellent work that Amanda had completed during her time with the county.”