Burns protects PA workers, puts people’s lives before profits

Sides with medical experts on coronavirus timeline

EBENSBURG, April 14 – Heeding the advice of medical experts including Dr. Anthony Fauci, state Rep. Frank Burns today sided with science instead of profit, voting against a legislative effort to roll back effective mitigation efforts that have slowed the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

Burns, D-Cambria, said while he wants to see a return to normalcy as quickly as possible, doing so prematurely is a mistake that would endanger workers, overwhelm hospitals and cost lives.

"Even though the federal government and medical experts like Dr. Fauci said 'facts and data' will decide when states reopen their economies, Republicans in Harrisburg forced this vote in an act of pure political gamesmanship,” Burns said. “Their efforts to undermine the medical experts, just to score points with political donors, would put workers in jeopardy and nullify the efforts and sacrifices already made to contain COVID-19.”

With so much at stake in this unprecedented health battle, Burns said he could not in good conscience vote in favor of S.B. 613. The bill amounts to a legislative mandate to override common sense by allowing businesses to reopen, irrespective of the remaining level of COVID-19 danger.

“I understand the importance of getting everyone back to work and want to see that happen as quickly as possible,” Burns said. “But what good does it do you or your family to allow your employer to force you back to work in the midst of a national pandemic?

“In the battle between saving lives and making profit, I’m siding with savings lives. A paycheck does you no good if you don’t live long enough to cash it.”

Burns said the bill, which passed the House mostly along party lines with two Republicans voting ‘no’, was opposed by the medical community, which fears it could create a second spike in coronavirus cases, prolonging the crisis and further delaying complete economic recovery.

"I'm on the side of the doctors, nurses, first responders and medical professionals who are on the front lines of this crisis," Burns said. “I’m listening to them, not the armchair ‘health experts’ who have suddenly appeared on the GOP side of the aisle in the PA House of Representatives.”

Burns said he finds particular irony in the fact that while 107 Republicans voted in favor of the bill because they believe the crisis has fully abated, not all of them were in the House chamber to cast their votes, as Burns was.

“I traveled to Harrisburg to vote against this bill, to protect workers,” Burns said. "Everyone in Pennsylvania should ask the legislators who voted yes from home why they feel it's OK to force others back to work, but it's not yet safe enough for them to show up at the Capitol to do their own job.”

Burns said he is keenly aware of the pressures facing small businesses, as his own family operates one that dealt with the fallout from the 1977 Johnstown flood, the closure of Bethlehem Steel in the 1980s, and multiple recessions, including the Great Recession of 2008.

“I’m all for getting our businesses up and running as quickly as possible,” Burns said. “But I’m not willing to let corporate America dictate the terms of when it is safe to do that.”