SPRINGFIELD − April 15, 2020 − Senator Tim Kearney (D – Chester, Delaware) today voted against Senate Bill 613, which would override Governor Tom Wolf’s COVID-19 mitigation efforts and reopen non-essential businesses in Pennsylvania against the advice of medical experts.
“We all want to return to our normal lives, but we’re not there yet,” said Senator Kearney. “Republican legislators have rushed to reopen businesses ahead of the recommendation of medical experts. This is a dangerous action that would put everyone’s lives at risk. That is why I voted against this bill.”
Senator Kearney continued, “Our family and friends with COVID-19 are fighting for their lives, and our medical professionals are putting their lives on the line to save others. 647 people in Pennsylvania have died from this disease so far, including 84 people here in Delaware and Chester Counties. These terrible losses, and the bravery of our healthcare workers, should not be in vain.”
Together Pennsylvanians have been flattening the curve and saving lives by following Governor Wolf’s orders. On March 23, when the governor closed non-essential businesses, COVID-19 infections were increasing at a rate of 34% per day. It has since dropped to about 7% per day. If the rate had continued at 34%, today 539,879 people would have the virus — in a state with only 14,395 hospital beds — and 11,690 people would have died. Reopening businesses now will flood our hospitals with new patients and put our healthcare workers at greater risk at a time when they still do not have safe levels of personal protective equipment (PPE).
Republicans also blocked an amendment to ensure protections for workers who would be forced back to work, rejecting a proposal to provide employees with workers compensation, protective gear, and paid sick leave if they are infected.
“I am not willing to needlessly and recklessly risk the lives of my fellow Pennsylvanians,” said Senator Kearney. “Nothing can bring back the lives of our family and friends who die from COVID-19. We must protect our frontline workers right now and restart our economy when it is safe to do so. My colleagues and I will keep fighting to provide the economic assistance that working families and small businesses need to stay afloat.”