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Coronavirus Coverage: Leaders In Butler And Armstrong Counties Say They Deserve To Be Among First To Reopen During COVID-19 Pandemic

BUTLER COUNTY (KDKA) -- Butler and Armstrong counties want to be among the first regions to partially reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Leaders in the counties asked Gov. Tom Wolf not to group them within the Pittsburgh region as the state's approach to reopening gets underway.

They say they feel much like the Northwest region and should be able to reopen May 8.

Armstrong County commissioners believe the county should reopen in less than 10 days.

They say businesses in their more rural area are ready to implement safety guidelines and can't afford to stay closed much longer.

"I think people are realizing now, there are other ways to protect yourself. We're willing to do this," said Jason Renshaw, vice-chair of the Armstrong County Board of Commissioners.

"Small businesses are the backbone of our county, of our community as a whole," said commissioners chair Don Myers.


Under the governor's plan, Pennsylvania was divided into six regions using geography, density, coronavirus cases and hospital capacity.

Armstrong is in the Southwest region, along with 10 other counties including Allegheny.

Leaders in Armstrong Co. feel this regional approach to reopening doesn't make sense.

"We have adequate testing and we're meeting that criteria, 50 per 100,000 population," said Armstrong County commissioner Pat Fabian.

For a county to move from the red phase to the yellow phase, it must have fewer than 50 daily new cases per 100,000 people for 14 days.

Once a county enters the yellow phase, it's no longer under stay-at-home orders.

Butler officials believe this is necessary to get the economy going.

"We don't want it to go any further than the May 8 deadline. We just really need to get some of our people back to work," said Butler County Commissioners Chairperson Leslie Osche.

Butler County leaders say they're working with emergency management and hospitals to make sure that healthcare systems have continued testing in place and contact tracing.

"We've told the governor we did our part. We hope he will do his part," Osche said.

On Friday, the Wolf administration plans to announce exactly what parts of Pennsylvania can begin a relaxing of shutdown directives.

More information on the Coronavirus pandemic:

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