Northampton Press

Monday, May 25, 2020

Boscola asks Wolf to move Lehigh, Northampton to yellow

Wednesday, May 13, 2020 by CONTRIBUTED ARTICLE in Local News

State Sen. Lisa Boscola, D-18th, sent a letter to Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf May 8 requesting Northampton and Lehigh counties be moved to the yellow phase of reopening.

“This request comes on the heels of two separate conversations I had with the infectious disease doctors at both St. Luke’s University Health Network and Lehigh Valley Health Network,” Boscola said in the letter.

She stressed she understands making the decision to reopen any of the counties is not easy, but she believes the expert opinions of Dr. Luther Rhodes of LVHN and Dr. Jeffrey Jahre of St. Luke’s should not be ignored.

“We all recognize that opening in the yellow phase does not mean a return to business as usual,” she said. “In fact, it is quite the opposite.”

Boscola said both doctors are still urging the need to continue social distancing and wearing masks to ensure there is not a surge in new cases when things begin to reopen.

“Both doctors noted that we know so much more about the disease today than we did seven weeks ago,” she added. “There are better treatment protocols, better supplies, a better understanding of precautions we need to take and just a better understanding of the virus.”

She said since these doctors have treated the most critically ill patients in the area, they have a firm understanding of the effects of the virus.

According to Boscola, Jahre suggested a more objective indicator for moving from one phase to the next should be the number of patients hospitalized with the virus since the vast majority of positive patients do not require hospitalization.

She added Rhodes strongly believes the Lehigh Valley should already be in the yellow phase — and heading toward green.

“He feared that we are locked in the initial recoil of the virus,” she said.

Boscola said both doctors have agreed that, with appropriate social distancing measures such as masks and crowd limitations, the area could handle activities currently delegated to the green phase, such as the operation of nail and hair salons.

“It is critical that the public and business owners adhere to responsible social distancing guidelines for the success of any reopening plan,” she said, adding that she believes Lehigh Valley residents understand the importance of social distancing and will continue to adhere to the guidelines during the reopening.

“I am not pretending to know more than the experts,” Boscola said. “I am advocating for the shift to yellow based solely upon what the local experts treating the sickest patients in the Lehigh Valley believe we should be doing here in the Lehigh Valley.”

As of press time May 13, Wolf had moved 37 of the state’s 67 counties to the yellow phase of his reopening plan.