It’s been two months since Pennsylvanians started to see COVID-19 among us, and everyone is understandably weary of the shutdown and restrictions, said Gov. Tom Wolf at a briefing Friday.
When this began, he said, “The virus was ravaging Italy. We didn’t want that to be our parents and our friends and our families, so we acted decisively.
“Time has worn us down,” Wolf continued. “With each passing day it becomes harder and harder to stay home.”
But this is not the time to give up the fight against the invisible threat of a highly contagious and deadly virus, the governor said.
“The danger is there. It is real. We need to take that seriously,” he continued. While fed-up citizens and numerous politicians are pushing for seemingly onerous restrictions to be lifted, Wolf cautioned that the experts on diseases and on tracking health crises say the danger remains very real.
“As the leader of this Commonwealth,” he said, the health and safety of every citizens is in his hands. “I can’t and I will not let this virus ravage our communities.”
Wolf said he will be releasing twice-weekly reports from Carnegie Mellon so the public can get a better understanding of how dangerous the virus really is, and what factors he is considering in imposing restrictions.
“We want our communities to succeed,” he said, but cautioned that those eager to reopen are not the ones trained in epidemiology.
“We have saved lives by what we’ve done,” he said. “Through our social distancing efforts, we have not only reversed a trajectory of exponential new case growth – we have cut it in half.
“Please keep up your efforts in the fight.”
Several questions posed to Wolf followed the same vein — but what about the economy?
“The balance between economic damage versus the negative health potential, had we allowed what happened in Italy to happen here, that would have been worse for the economy,” Wolf said, explaining more people would be sick or dead.
“The way we did it here in Pennsylvania was less bad than the alternative,” he said. “We didn’t have a choice. The virus was imposed on us.”
What about the counties and governments that are opening without the state’s permission? Wolf cautioned that the state’s guidelines are in place for the health and safety of residents. “You ignore that at your peril.”
In some places, elected officials like sheriffs and district attorneys are saying they will do nothing to people who violate the state’s orders. “It always makes me wonder how someone elected to enforce the law is out there saying they are going to break it,” Wolf said.
What is his response to protestors? “That’s what makes a democracy great,” he said, referring to the right to protest. “I hope they are doing so in a way that keeps other people safe.”
Masking is becoming political, one question alleged, and asked Wolf about the directive to wear masks in public. He again said it is a request, not a directive.
“We’re asking people to do something in their own self interest,” the governor said. “That’s something I’m doing because it’s the right thing to do. Ultimately that should be what’s driving us.”
Wolf was asked, too, to respond to calls for his impeachment. He started by saying he isn’t a lawyer, but added, “I can’t wait to see the legal arguments they might be forwarding in that case.”