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Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) says that law enforcement and county officials who refuse to punish business owners for reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic are "cowardly."
Wolf also threatened to withhold stimulus aid to counties that flout his executive order.
What's a brief history here?
Several law enforcement officials have come forward in recent days publicly defying Wolf's business closure orders regarding "non-life-sustaining businesses."
Most recently, Snyder and Union County sheriffs said they would refuse to enforce the shutdowns and will not turn business owners into criminals. In their respective statements, Snyder County Sheriff John Zechman and Union County Sheriff Ernie Ritter vowed to keep their promise.
"We will NOT be enforcing executive orders that are unconstitutional and we will NOT be making criminals out of businesses that are trying to provide for their families and their employees' families," they said in statements.
What are the details?
On Monday, The Daily Item reported that Wolf hit back at the counties that say they will not enforce his executive order amid the coronavirus pandemic.
At the time of this writing, researchers at Johns Hopkins university estimate that at least 60,357 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed across Pennsylvania, with at least 3,883 deaths because of the virus.
Wolf said that he will withhold stimulus aid to counties that are not in compliance with his administration's orders.
"If one of us deserts, you're not just injuring yourself you're injuring us all," Wolf said. "We can't afford to have people deserting."
He also said that counties refusing to cooperate "need to understand the consequences of their cowardly act."
Additionally, Pennsylvania's state Insurance Department suggested that business owners may lose insurance coverage if they do not cooperate with the statewide mandate.
In a statement, Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman said, "It is the duty of every business and resident in Pennsylvania to ensure that they and the public at large are provided with the maximum level of protection afforded by insurance. Any actions that could potentially create coverage gaps are the antitheses of the civil duty required of all residents during these times of emergency."
The outlet reported that the governor has relaxed social distancing restrictions — or has implemented a plan attempting to do so — in at least 37 counties across the state.
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