EXCLUSIVE: Commissioner Metzger seeing Red over Gov. Wolf lack of plan for Green status

TalkWilliamsport.com has consistently pressed Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health, Dr. Rachel Levine on questions of thresholds reached to close counties and conversely reopen them.

At the outset of the coronavirus pandemic the justification for Stay-at-Home orders and non-life sustaining business closures was to “flatten the curve” and “build capacity for the health care system”.

If not, a surge of coronavirus cases was predicted to overwhelm the system.

The overwhelming surge in the general population never happened and was never going to.

However, the surge that did occur was in the most vulnerable among us.

The elderly, more specifically those with multiple comorbidity conditions and in nursing or personal care homes.

The destruction wrought by the Department of Health memo sending those patients back into nursing homes instead of leaving them in better equipped and more robustly staffed hospitals is a stain on this Commonwealth that will echo in eternity.

So why is more not being done to protect that vulnerable population?

Why are counties that have glacial pace case counts remaining in yellow and not moving into green status?

That very question was asked of Governor Wolf today during a press conference by talkwilliamsport.com.

Wolf was so dumbfounded by the question he referred to red counties moving to yellow instead of addressing yellow to green. (click for audio)


With the lack of response, this leads to only one conclusion; never ending lock down of the population of Pennsylvania.

Lycoming County Commissioner Scott Metzger during the Commissioner’s Comments portion of the weekly work session has had enough and aired out his frustrations with the Wolf Administration today.

(Editor’s note: These are the transcribed comments made by Metzger from earlier today and unedited.)

We are now in Day 62 and our constituents wake up each day looking for answers. These are adults being treated like children. The State government with inaccurate numbers is deciding when and how we are to live our lives. A country founded on freedoms is disappearing rapidly. Those very rights are under attack and are currently being vaporized by a group of politicians.

In New Jersey a pastor who held a drive in service that had 23 people in 18 cars, was ordered not to conduct services.

In Los Angeles the Mayor says he may not reopen entirely till we have a cure. He opened the beaches and stated that beach goers are allowed on the wet sand but cannot sit or lay on the dry sand.

In Oregon, a hair stylist has had her license, lease and her children threaten to be taken away if she did not stop working. Now she has received a $14,000 fine to add insult to injury. Basic rights are being violated without the use of logic or common sense!

Lycoming County entered the yellow phase 11 days ago and everyone is still confused.

On April 13th Governor Wolf stated he was aligning Pennsylvania with 6 other states to coordinate a collective approach to reopening. Each state was going to have three people assigned to work on the coordination. Those 6 other states are New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. If you go to each State’s website, you will find their plans for reopening. New York, the hardest hit, is operating on a two week period of continued progress before a region advances to the next phase. In Pennsylvania there is nothing detailed. Only New Jersey and Massachusetts are farther behind than Pennsylvania.

So how do we get to the Green Phase without a plan?

Last week the Governor spoke to the County Commissioners after a 7 week hiatus.

Tuesday he stated his approach may not be for other counties to go to the Green Phase until every Pennsylvania county is in the Yellow Phase.

Thursday the conversation was that this is not necessarily being viewed regionally, as the State is now looking at counties individually. This is just as confusing as what originally identified as the essential, non- essential, who gets waivers, Big box stores open, small businesses closed directives coming out of Harrisburg. Remember the original reason we shut down society was to prevent the hospitals from mass hospitalizations.

Let’s take a look at yellow phase.

For example, it has the malls listed as Recreational Indoor Facilities. The mall might lighten your wallet, but I don’t think I ever worked up a sweat in one.

Little League and youth sports in the yellow phase are classified as entertainment along with botanical gardens, zoos, concerts and professional sports.

They wonder why people are confused. Because I sure am!

In Delaware the Governor is having town hall style meetings to hear from his constituents. More than ever during these times, a constituent should be entitled to be heard from their elected officials.

Congressman Keller, Senator Yaw, Representative Everett and Wheeland, Commissioner Mussare and Mirabito have all been available.

Last Thurs. The Pennsylvania House and Senate passed a bill to allow counties to develop business mitigation plans to determine which businesses could reopen within their counties. That is now on the Governor’s desk and will likely be vetoed!

Gov. Wolf Vetoes SB 327, HB 2388 and HB 2412

The Governor needs to provide a fully detailed plan to get Pennsylvania back to work. A step by step accounting of each area progressing from the Red Phase to the Yellow Phase to the Green Phase to the No Phase must be articulated to the local governments and citizens of Pennsylvania.

We are now more than two months into this crisis.

The Governor has had enough time to formulate a strategy. Other states have demonstrated that is more than enough time and freely possible.

70 percent of Pennsylvania businesses are small businesses. Too many of them are being impacted by this ineffective approach.

A detailed plan to get them back in operation is necessary and needed now. These businesses do not want handouts. They were closed down to reduce the risks, flatten the curve, which has been accomplished.

The detailed plans need to be established or these businesses will be forced to close their doors. Through collaboration, Counties and these businesses have the capabilities to develop their own plans to re-open in a responsible and effective manner.

Stop moving the goalposts according to your ideas without sharing them.

Let the counties open before June 4th which just happens to fall two days after the state primary.

That is ironic that several northeast states have part or all of their states lock down till two days after the primary.

Show us the plan to move or sign the legislation to allow the counties to get it done.


On May 11, Governor Wolf announced discretionary federal CARES Act funding could be withheld from counties that move into phases prior to his order.

When asked by talkwilliamsport to clarify his position Governor Wolf doubled down, reiterated his position which drew the ire of elected leaders.

Congressman Keller blasts Gov. Wolf’s threat to withhold funding and protections from PA counties and businesses.

Commissioner Metzger continues to be a vocal critic of the silence coming from the Wolf Administration toward county and local elected officials amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

No counties in Pennsylvania have yet to move into the Green Phase even with as few as two cases (Cameron, Sullivan & Warren) over 10 weeks.

Here are the numbers on Day 62 based on the Department of Health report released today:

8 counties have 10 or fewer cases

16 counties have 11-49 cases

10 counties have 50-100 cases

7 counties have 101-200 cases

41 of 67 counties have 200 cases

6 counties have 201-500 cases

7 counties have 501-999 cases

3 counties have 1,000-2,000 cases

57 of 67 counties have less than 2,000 cases

13,441 of 63,666 Total cases in those 57 counties

286,034 Pennsylvanians have tested negative for COVID-19


2,199 cases in Chester County (58 of 67 counties)

15,640 total cases is still 847 cases less than Philadelphia County 16,487


15,153 total cases in 5 counties of Luzerne, Lancaster, Northampton, Lehigh and Berks (63 of 67 counties)

16,390 in 3 counties of Bucks, Delaware, Montgomery (66 of 67 counties)

16,390 is still 87 cases less than Philadelphia County 16,487 (67 of 67 counties)


4,624 deaths have been attributed to COVID-19 in Pennsylvania with the majority occurring in nursing or personal care home patients over the age of 65.

So Governor Wolf and Secretary Levine, after 10 weeks of lock down, why are 66 of 67 counties in Pennsylvania still in red and yellow status?

At the glacial pace of the community spread in eight counties will less than 10 cases in them your successors, successor will have to move them to green status.

Day 63 is tomorrow.

Stay tuned to talkwilliamsport.com for developments on this story.


May 14

UPDATE: Sec. Levine responds to “The fear has to stop” comment made by LCC Metzger

EXCLUSIVE: LCC Metzger takes issue with Sec. Levine response on spreading fear

May 12

EXCLUSIVE: Commissioner Metzger to Gov. Wolf & Sec. Levine: The fear has to stop