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Clinton County commissioners happy, cautious

LOCK HAVEN — A new chapter is being written about a terrible virus that has invaded Clinton County and the rest of the world, killing thousands and sickening thousands more.

COVID-19 has closed hundreds of businesses and schools and people have been forced to stay at home, wear masks and practice social distancing.

As the weeks and months passed and the number of cases and deaths continued to rise beyond comprehension, more and more chapters were written about the virus that nobody ever heard of or could even imagine hitting our little corner of the world.

Fear still sweeps through the community as families struggle to feed their children and pay their monthly bills.

People wonder if it will ever end.

And it hasn’t.

But, there’s finally some good news to write about in this chapter.

Gov. Tom Wolf announced yesterday that Clinton County has moved from the “red phase” to the “yellow phase” in his plan to reopen the state.

As the word hit Clinton County, it was met with happiness and hope that indeed there could be a light at the end of this dark tunnel, but also caution.

Among those who were glad to see some movement in the right direction are the Clinton County commissioners, who were anxious to share their thoughts upon learning of the governor’s announcement.

“I’m extremely happy to see we can start opening up some of our businesses,” said Commissioner Miles Kessinger.

“I have to say I wanted to see more… like hair salons and barber shops… but this is a good start,” he continued.

Kessinger said he is “optimistic we can get through this now and looks forward to getting back to whatever normal life will be after this situation passes.”

He added that the commissioners are in the process of forming a plan on how they will reopen the county and will unveil it next week.

Commissioner Jeff Snyder said he too is glad to see some businesses opening up again, while stressing the need for caution.

“I think we need to get some of these small businesses reopened, but I also think we need to stress the use of safety measures. I’m concerned with the numbers going up that we could see a spike very quickly.

“We have a lot of small businesses who haven’t been able to get unemployment. We need to get these small businesses opened. And I do think we can be successful. I have seen how our people have reacted. It’s obvious that they realize how serious this is and have been following the guidelines.

“And I think we need to continue to follow those guidelines… wearing masks in public and social distancing. It could be the new norm for us. We still don’t know a lot about this virus. But as for right now, the community as a whole in Clinton County has been very respectful of this virus and each other and they will continue.

“Yes, I’m very glad to get this opportunity to get some businesses opened up again. It’s been difficult. We gotta get things moving,” Snyder said.

Commissioner Angela Harding said she is encouraged to see businesses reopen, but concerned that the community will be at risk of increased cases with the “yellow” designation.

“I can only hope that the Governor’s “aggressive mitigation, contact tracing, and additional testing” is afforded to rural PA. The social gatherings of 25 or less is concerning to me, especially when Clinton County has yet to flatten our curve. We continue to gain traction (albeit slowly) and to that point, continue the spread.

“I strongly encourage our residents and businesses to continue to follow the guidelines and recommendations of protecting themselves and each other. The pandemic is not over and if we move forward too quickly, we may find ourselves right back where we started, or worse, with a bigger outbreak,” Harding said.

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