State Watch

Pennsylvania governor threatens to withhold federal aid to counties that open prematurely

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) warned Monday that counties that disobey state directives and allow businesses to reopen would face consequences.

In a series of tweets, the governor said county officials who allow nonessential businesses to reopen would lose access to federal stimulus funding, while individual businesses that disobeyed the state orders risked citations.

“I won’t sit back and watch residents who live in counties under Stay at Home orders get sick because local leaders cannot see the risks of #COVID19 and push to reopen prematurely,” he tweeted. “Today I am announcing consequences for counties that do not abide by the law to remain closed.”

“Non-compliant counties won’t be eligible for federal stimulus discretionary funds. Instead, those funds will be allocated to counties working to stop the spread of #COVID19,” he continued, adding: “Dine-in restaurants that open in counties that have not been authorized to reopen will risk receiving a citation. These citations can ultimately lead to the loss of a restaurant’s liquor license.”

Wolf’s order comes as President Trump and other conservatives have pressured him and other state officials to ease coronavirus-related restrictions on businesses, which Trump on Monday asserted were being left in place in order for Democrats to gain a political advantage.

“The great people of Pennsylvania want their freedom now, and they are fully aware of what that entails. The Democrats are moving slowly, all over the USA, for political purposes. They would wait until November 3rd if it were up to them,” Trump tweeted.

Wolf’s announcement also follows warnings sent by California state officials to local leaders in three counties that have allowed some businesses and public spaces to reopen in recent days. The director of California’s Office of Emergency Services wrote to officials in Sutter, Modoc and Yuba counties last week that emergency funding could not be used to respond to disasters created by officials’ “negligence,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

“Further, disaster assistance programs prohibit a jurisdiction from receiving funding for a condition caused by its own negligence,” read the letter to Yuba County, according to the newspaper. “Should Yuba County experience a surge in COVID-19 cases as a result of hasty and careless actions, the county may be ineligible for reimbursement.” 

Tags Coronavirus Donald Trump

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