Gov. Tom Wolf acknowledged that a decision on when to allow a region to reopen is both art and science, with a high degree of uncertainty thrown in.

He said “I’m trying to do this in a logical, reasoned, sequential, cadenced way, but recognizing that ultimately there’s going to be a measure of subjectivity to this whole thing,”

It’s time to get our state open again. Pennsylvania’s state government cannot continue to destroy our economy and erode our civil rights. When the shut-down began, we were told the purpose of the shut-down was to flatten the curve, but the goal posts kept moving. The curb is flattened, and we are still closed. It is time to move on and get our economy started again. We were also told repeatedly that we need to listen to “science”. We did and they were wrong. Way wrong. Their models were severely incorrect.

Now Gov. Wolf is adding “art” to “science”. This is not science. The predictions were incorrect by factors so great that there is no way this should be called science. What it is, is so-called “scientists” guessing and guessing wrong. The result is the destruction of our economy, the destruction of our civil liberties, and destruction of the American way of life that most of us hold dear.

In Montgomery County, PA., 73% of the Covid-19 deaths were in long-term care facilities. In fact 35% of the total positives in Montgomery County are directly linked to long-term care facilities. Eighty Nine long-term care facilities have reported positive cases. Where is the breakdown? Which facilities? How many in each facility? How many individuals are currently infectious? What is the plan to separate and deal with this situation?

In Pennsylvania, 51% of the deaths were associated with long-term care facilities. What is being done to mitigate this? Why isn’t detailed information on this made public? If my financial security and my civil rights are being ripped from me, then why is this info on long term facilities being kept secret? The public has a right to this info.

The goal here cannot simply be to keep the disease from spreading. There is much more at stake and it’s not all “science”. There are also fiscal responsibilities and civil liberty protections that are vital to our society, security, health, and way of life.

Wolf said “We are trying to keep people safe and we are being driven by the dictates of this virus.” Not true. We are being driven by the dictates of this governor. “Science” has shown us that there has been an increase in suicides and drug abuse. Where are those numbers? How important is this? Where does this play into the decisions?

Wolf further explained that expanded virus testing, sufficient hospital capacity, and the ability to quickly identify and contain flare ups through what’s known as contact tracing must also be in place. Again the goal posts have been moved. Contact tracing is an entirely new assault on our civil liberties which will require each citizen to be put under 24 hour surveillance further eroding our civil rights. How far does this go? When does this end? Is this how Americans want to live?

Trying to hit the governor's benchmark of less than 50 new cases per 100,000 people is a new moving target that will get further and further from achievement. As testing increases so will the number of confirmed positive cases increase. Currently in Montgomery County, 14% of those tested are confirmed positives. It goes to reason that if the rate of positive cases of those tested stays the same and we double the number of tests, then we will double the number of positive confirmed cases. How does this fit into “science”? Does this mean we will never open this region, because we cannot meet the “high degree of uncertainty” that this “science” predicts?

Tests are reserved for high-risk individuals meeting one or more of the following five (5) criteria:

• Persons of any age with symptoms of sudden illness (such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, loss of smell/taste, OR gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea), with or without fever; OR

• First responder (law enforcement, fire, EMS, or dispatcher) AND concern for exposure to a patient with suspected COVID-19 OR symptoms of any sudden illness, with or without fever; OR

• Healthcare worker providing direct patient care AND concern for exposure to a patient with suspected COVID-19 OR symptoms of any sudden illness, with or without fever; OR

• Anyone with known or suspected direct contact to someone with COVID-19; OR

• Anyone who has been recommended by their doctor to get tested.

So if the percentage of positive cases of those tested is 14% and we are only testing high risk people, then how low would that rate be if we expanded testing? If we are not in the position to significantly increase the amount of testing that can be done, then so be it. We can’t continue to destroy our economy until that is available. It just doesn’t make sense.

Why wait for May 8 to open the rest of the state which is currently meeting the governor’s criteria based on "art", "science", a "high degree of uncertainty", and "subjectivity"? We must open now.

When we look at all the options available to us, our leaders must recognize when an idea is unrealistic, unreasonable, unconstitutional, doesn’t help us in the long term, is not available in the near future, or is otherwise just a bad idea, and then dismiss that possibility.

I strongly urge our governor and all legislators to quickly move to reopen our state. Look at all the possibilities ahead of us and decide how to get us reopened. Further, take a very hard long look at long-term care facilities and isolate that problem instead of isolating all Pennsylvanians.

We need Pennsylvania open for business before this situation destroys all of us.

—Rusty Oister,

Gilbertsville

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