Bizzarro, Merski, Harkins renew demand to move Erie to green, open phase

ERIE, June 3 – Renewing their demand to open Erie County, state Reps. Ryan Bizzarro, Bob Merski and Pat Harkins, all D-Erie, have written to Gov. Tom Wolf urging him to add the county to the list of others moving to the “green” phase of the state’s reopen plan on June 5.

The lawmakers say they hope the letter – co-signed by state Sens. Dan Laughlin and Michele Brooks; state Reps. Curt Sonney and Brad Roae; and local mayors and county executives – will bring swift action.  

Bizzarro said, “We’re continuing to push the administration to move Erie to green, for the sake of our small businesses and local economy. Each day that goes by makes it that much harder for these businesses to get back on their feet. To be sure, the health of our residents is priority No. 1, but we must not ignore the health of our local economy, which is hanging in the balance.”

Merski said, “Keeping Erie in the yellow is doing nothing to keep residents safer; it’s only hurting our local businesses. Surrounding counties – including those in Ohio and New York – are fully open, forcing Erie consumers to travel elsewhere for services. It only creates unnecessary competition for our business community and increases the risk of spreading the virus.

“What’s more, the numbers don’t support the continued restrictions: Statistics from our local health department show that our county has a lower per-population infection rate than 15 of the counties moving to green on June 5.”

Harkins said, “As surrounding counties move to the green phase of the reopen plan, Erie remains in the yellow – a decision that continues to stunt our local economy and burden the small businesses and working families that drive our economy. Erie residents and business owners are responsible. They have proven that they know how to practice safe infection control. It’s time to let Erie open its door so we can jumpstart our local economy along with our neighbors.”

Also signing the letter were Erie Mayor Joseph Schember, Erie County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper, and Corry Mayor David Mitchell.