Green phase guidance spurs concerns for fairs

Bradford County Commissioners Doug McLinko and Daryl Miller are pictured during Thursday’s livestreamed meeting.

Gov. Tom Wolf’s green phase guidance limiting festivals, fairs, and other gatherings to no more than 250 people brought up some concerns during Thursday’s meeting of the Bradford County Commissioners.

Dave Rockwell, a member of the Troy Fair Board of Directors, said the move into the green phase isn’t good news for Bradford County’s largest event.

“Two hundred and fifty people only?” he said. “We’re calling Yaw, we’re calling Owlett. We need help doing this, and so do other fairs that still plan on continuing.”

Last week, the Wyalusing Valley Volunteer Fire Department announced the cancellation of its largest fundraiser of the year, the 2020 Wyalusing Firemen’s Carnival, citing the uncertainty of what the state will allow come August when the carnival is held, and the months needed to plan such an event.

“We did not take this decision lightly,” the department said in a Facebook post. “We are here to preserve and protect the surrounding communities and we could not risk the lives of our volunteers and patrons while at the carnival. Also we are not sure what the county will be in as per restrictions come August. We have not been getting any information from Gov. Wolf or his administration. It takes many months of planning and coordinating and money in order to hold the carnival and we could not risk the government telling us we could not do it anyway so we had to make the decision early. We are truly sorry that we have to cancel our hometown celebration. We will be back bigger than ever next year provided we can find the help.”

Commissioner Doug McLinko noted the large hit the fire department stands to take from the cancellation of the carnival as he called on the state to take another look at its guidelines as officials continue learning more about COVID-19 and for the area’s elected state officials to get answers.

Referencing a call Wednesday between members of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania and officials with the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and Department of Health, Commissioner Chairman Daryl Miller said someone asked the question, “What are the next stages beyond green?” and no one had an answer.

“That’s the frustrating part to this whole thing,” he continued. “We’ve held people’s lives in limbo and businesses in limbo, and nobody seems to be able to tell us what direction or pathway we’re taking to get back to what amounts to normal.”

Miller added, “We want people to operate. We want to do things in a safe manner. We all want to be safe. We don’t want to see people getting more sick than they are now. Again, we need to get back to doing business, we need to get back to a normal way of life so that we can all go on about our lives.”

As part of the transition to normal, the county hopes to open the courthouse back up to the general public without appointments starting next Monday, although details are still being finalized with the court and will be announced in the near future. Miller noted one exception in which an appointment would still be required would be for those performing title searches through the Register and Recorder’s Office due to the close proximity of the space.

Even once the courthouse becomes more open to the public, Miller urged people to still do as much business as they can online to reduce courthouse traffic. For those who do come into the courthouse, McLinko reminded them to take the proper precautions, and highlighted the different hand sanitizing stations throughout the building.

“It’s still an issue that we have to be mindful of. We can’t ignore it. We can’t pretend it doesn’t exist. It does exist,” said Miller. “We know we can do this, and we can do it in a safe manner.”

Meanwhile. Bradford County’s number of positive COVID-19 cases (46) and deaths (three) to date has not changed since Wednesday, according to the Department of Health.

Thursday, the department reported 625 new cases across the state, bringing the total to 70,042. The state also had 108 new deaths. In addition, 357,804 people have tested negative across the state, and an estimated 64% of those infected with COVID-19 have recovered.

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