Toohil, Mullery urge Wolf to enforce safe workplace guidelines in Hazleton area during COVID-19 emergency

HAZLETON, April 9 – Concerned over a possible health threat to hundreds of employees in the Hazleton area, Reps. Tarah Toohil (R-Luzerne) and Gerald Mullery (D-Luzerne) today sent a letter to Gov. Tom Wolf urging the administration to enforce safe workplace guidelines during the COVID-19 emergency.

The legislators said their offices have received numerous complaints about violations by certain local employers of the Department of Health’s guidance regarding sanitation measures and social distancing in business facilities of at least 50,000 square feet in size. 

“The greater Hazleton area has seen dramatic community spread of the virus,” said Toohil. “We believe this spread has been caused, in part, by large employers unwilling or unable to adhere to Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine’s directive. It falls upon the administration to enforce her directive and ensure the safety of our constituents. Words are not enough!”

The legislators are seeking an immediate investigation and temporary work stoppage at the facilities in question.

“It’s disturbing to see Luzerne County has become a hot spot for the spread of COVID-19. I have heard from numerous constituents who are fearful of contracting the virus because their employers are not following the guidelines issued by the state,” Mullery said. “It’s imperative that Gov. Wolf take action to protect these employees who are showing up to work in what has become an unsafe environment. If the administration truly wants to protect those essential workers being called upon to support all Pennsylvanians during this trying time, the governor must be ready and willing to enforce the guidelines he has placed on their employers.”

Last Sunday, Levine signed an order updating the cleaning protocols for buildings of at least 50,000 square feet used for commercial, industrial or other enterprises, including but not limited to facilities for warehousing, manufacturing, commercial offices, airports, grocery stores, universities, colleges, government, hotels and residential buildings with at least 50 units.