Franklin remains red

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Franklin County remains in Gov. Tom Wolf’s COVID-19 red zone. Wolf announced Friday that 12 more Pennsylvania counties will move to yellow May 22, including the rest of Franklin’s neighbors. Franklin was not on that list.

Meanwhile, local politicians are divided in their support of an unauthorized move to yellow in the face of threats by Wolf to withhold CARES funding and yank businesses licenses and liability insurance.


Declaring independence

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Last weekend all of Franklin County’s elected state legislators and one county commissioner joined several other South-Central counties in declaring the county’s independence from the restrictive “red zone.”


Franklin County has met the requirement of Wolf’s original ”Stay-at-Home” order, they said in a letter addressed to Wolf. The county should get to move to “yellow” status, they said, threatening to do that themselves.

The idea of moving the county from “red” to “yellow” was also supported by Greencastle Council President Steve Miller and Mayor Ben Thomas, who urged state legislators to use whatever leverage they might have in Harrisburg to move at least zip code 17225 from red to yellow.

Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce President Georgina Cranston has also written to Gov. Tom Wolf pointing out that the town and Antrim Township’s zip code has low Coronavirus case numbers and no deaths.

“We are forced to leave town, go into packed big box stores and spend our money for things we could purchase here at home where folks are, right now, unemployed,” Thomas recently wrote in an open letter to residents.

‘Wait on Wolf’ others say

Two of Franklin County’s commissioners and Chambersburg’s top elected officials don’t think an early move to yellow without Wolf’s blessing is worth the risk, however.

County Commissioners voted 2-1 Wednesday to not support the independence move. Chambersburg’s Mayor Walt Bietsch and Council President Alice Elia don’t support it either.

Wolf acknowledged in his daily press conference that some counties were going to be disappointed they were staying red awhile longer. He called it necessary, however.

Friday’s DOH numbers

Department of Health figures list a total of 580 confirmed cases in Franklin County since testing began in early March. A total of 17 deaths, eight of them in nursing homes is listed on the DOH website.

DOH‘s numbers have differed from figures released locally from the start. Part of it can be explained by the lag in the time it takes for reports to reach Harrisburg and be tabulated by the state. The latest figures are puzzling however, especially when viewed county by county.

Franklin County Coroner Jeff Conner reports 18 COVID-19 deaths as of Friday, with 11 of those nursing home residents. Another six deaths here were Cumberland County residents who will be counted with that county’s numbers, and one was from Maryland.

DOH today listed 17 deaths in Franklin County, including eight nursing home residents. That’s one less death than Conner reports but fewer associated with nursing homes.

In Cumberland County, diagnosed cases are lower but the death toll is higher. DOH lists 492 diagnosed cases and 41 deaths. The chart listing nursing home deaths list 42 for Cumberland, or one more than the total for the county.

Adams County has had fewer cases and fewer deaths than either Franklin or Cumberland since the state started keeping track in March. Four of its six deaths have been nursing home patients, according to DOH charts.

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