Harkins calls for renewed focus on safety after Republican colleague tests positive for COVID-19

HARRISBURG, Oct. 1, – State Rep. Pat Harkins, D-Erie, issued the following statement after a Republican House member tested positive for COVID-19, forcing session to adjourn:

“Today, the state House of Representatives was forced to adjourn because a Republican member of the legislature tested positive for COVID-19. My colleagues and I sat with that member on Tuesday at a committee voting meeting.

“Yet again – for the second time since the pandemic arrived – the state’s business has come to a halt in Harrisburg amidst efforts at contact tracing and fears that the virus may have spread.

“It’s an interruption we can scarcely afford, as Pennsylvanians are looking to us to help protect their interests and come up with solutions to the many issues we face.

“It’s also an incident that highlights the foolishness of making one’s own rules, of ignoring safety experts and officials and disregarding simple safety protocol.

“Everyone wants this pandemic to end. Everyone wants to move forward. But there is a right way and wrong way. As much as we would like to believe that this pandemic over, it’s not. We can move toward normal, but we can’t rush headlong into the void.

“I urge my colleagues on the other side of the aisle who are complaining that restrictions are overblown and that it is time to return to normal to remember that there can be no normal without the certainty of public health.

“Regulations are there for a reason. Mask wearing is required for a reason. Safety protocol is there because it has been proven to slow the spread of COVID-19. We can move forward during this pandemic, but not if we take a huge step back every time we try.

“The people of Pennsylvania have been a shining example of cooperation. Thanks to their efforts at social distancing and following other safety protocols, activities are resuming, businesses are re-opening and restaurant and bar capacity is expanding. All that can continue – but only if we continue to take the threat of COVID-19 seriously. And only if my colleagues here in Harrisburg lead by example.

“With a deliberate, conscientious approach that emphasizes public health and safety protocol, we can get it right.”