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Clinton County Community Coalition unifies message on ‘going green’

LOCK HAVEN — Every Wednesday for the last 12 weeks, the Community Emergency Coalition has been meeting virtually, sharing information, asking questions, and working together to prepare Clinton County for all possible outcomes and phases of the state shut down due to COVID19. The premise is simple, keep everyone on the same page and guide each other and the community through the pandemic.

As Clinton County has been given the “green” light beginning today, the commissioners in conjunction with the Coalition are working to deliver a unified and thoughtful message to Clinton County.

Led by the Clinton County Commissioners, the Coalition includes leaders from across Clinton County including Commissioners Miles Kessinger, Jeff Snyder, and Angela Harding; Department of Emergency Services; Sheriff Kerry Stover; Coroner Zach Hanna; Lock Haven City Manager Greg Wilson; Lock Haven University President Rob Pignatello; President UPMC Lock Haven Ron Reynolds; CEO Bucktail Medical Center Tim Reeves;Geisinger Senior Director of Community Relations John Grabusky; CEO Economic Partnership Mike Flanagan; KCSD Superintendent Jacquelyn Martin; State Representative Stephanie Borowicz; Pennsylvania State Police Sgt. Andrew Peters; Lock Haven City Police Chief Kristen Smith; Castanea and Mill Hall Police Chief Brandon Coleman; Woodward Township Police Chief Steve Falotico; Gerard Banfill of Lock Haven EMS, and several other representatives and county stakeholders.

Although all these coalition members have other jobs, the objective of each organization is the same — keep our community healthy and protect our most vulnerable. The challenge is the fact that we may not know who the most vulnerable are. The goal is to get Clinton County back to what our new normal will be and to mitigate a rise in positive cases.

According to AP Medical Writer, Carla K. Johnson, it could be several weeks after reopenings to see a surge in infections and Crystal Watson of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security said it will take a few rounds of infection spread – five to six weeks – to know how reopening has affected epidemic curves. Medical professionals across the country stress the importance of contact tracing and increased testing. Without both, returning to restrictions or a lockdown might be necessary if there is a surge in infections.

Following is a compilation of quotes from several members of the Coalition to express the group’s message and give the community guidance through the ‘green phase’.

Clinton County Commissioner, Miles Kessinger — “We are happy that our County is going green and our business community and residents can begin to recover from the last two months. We strongly encourage everyone to use caution and continue to follow the guidelines put forth by the Governor, Department of Health, and CDC. We don’t want to revert back to closures and shut downs if cases begin to rise above the threshold.”

Clinton County Commissioner, Jeff Snyder — “We hope and request that our community continues to practice social distance, wear masks, and respect each other as we go green. The last thing we want to do is regress and go back to yellow or even red. The situation is changing daily, as is the guidance from the Governor. We need to stay alert to the situation as it continues to evolve.”

Clinton County Commissioner, Angela Harding — “We know that our community and our businesses are starving to get back to their lives and livelihoods. We want that too. I am kindly asking our community to take a gradual approach to the ‘green phase’. In this case, I find the phrase “only fools rush in” to be prevalent. By proceeding with caution, following guidelines, respecting each other, and doing this right, we will be better off in the long run.”

Clinton County Sheriff, Kerry Stover –“I am on record talking about how difficult this pandemic has been for all of us. There are many difficult choices that people have had to make; do I go to the grocery store or order online to avoid contact with people? Choices like their business staying open, closing or re-opening early. It could be a family’s only source of income and how they make ends meet to survive. Then add to the fact small business applications for funds, I heard, were extremely difficult to navigate through even to receive something.

“I certainly do not want to see Clinton County return to that again ever… let alone in coming weeks or months. I would encourage everyone to keep on doing what we are doing in the yellow phase. Things like distancing and wearing masks at least when you are closely speaking with someone, it all helps. I hope this stuff goes away for good just as quickly as you do but I think the facts are we just don’t know for sure when it will vanish for good. Let us error on the side of caution, be safe and continue with everyone’s safety in mind.

Clinton County Economic Partnership CEO, Mike Flanagan —“Even though we are going green, the Clinton County Economic Partnership would like to emphasize the importance of following guidelines and continuing to try and stay safe. We are pleased that the green phase allows more of our smaller businesses to get back into the batter’s box, but we all need to go slow and make sure it is done right. We should be particularly mindful when involved with or attending large gatherings. Hopefully, the new normal arrives sooner rather than later”.

Bucktail Medical Center CEO, Tim Reeves — As Clinton County moves into the ‘green phase’ under the Governor Wolf’s plan to reopen Pennsylvania, it is important to remember that this does not mean COVID19 is no longer a threat, it means we are one step closer to returning to a new normal.

“While moving from phase to phase is a process, it is also a process to move through each phase: I believe this especially true going into the ‘green phase’. We all still have a part to play. Some points I would like to stress: Do not host or attend large gatherings of any type. Respect the limitations and guidelines stores, restaurants, and other businesses put in place to protect your safety. Social distancing is still essential to reduce spreading the virus. Hand washing with soap and water is still the most effective way to get the virus off you and anything else washable. Wear a facemask. While a cloth mask may not filter much air when you inhale, a cloth mask is good at trapping droplets, the most effective way the virus spreads when you talk, sneeze, or cough. If you see a saturation that appears to ignore this guidance, it’s best not to participate”.

Lock Haven City Manager, Greg Wilson– “During the “Green Phase” of COVID-19 reopening, the City of Lock Haven is requiring any large gathering of 250 or fewer participants interested in using city facilities to submit a plan on how the organizers will safely hold the event while abiding by the regulations of the PA Department of Health (DOH) and the guidance from the PA Recreation and Parks Society (PRPS). That plan must be submitted to the office of the Director of Community Life Kasey Campbell whose contact information is on the city’s website www.lockhavenpa.gov. Both the DOH guidance and the PRPS are available online, as well as through the Campbell’s office. The submitted safety plan must then be reviewed and approved by City Council at a regular meeting to ensure public comment on the proposal for the safe use of city facilities.

“This applies not only to contact and non-contact sports (Little League, Junior League, Softball), but also any request for the use of city’s parks, the Corman Amphitheater, or street closure to accommodate day camps, organized outdoor fitness, farmers market or a community festival. Because any gathering for a planned or spontaneous event in the “Green Phase” greater than 250 individuals is prohibited, Council will not consider any proposal where a concert, festival, fair, conference, sporting event, movie showing or performance will knowingly exceed that number of participants”.

Geisinger Senior Director of Community Relations John Grabusky — “We all understand everyone wants to get back to ‘normal.’ However, even under the ‘green’ phase we do not go back to the way things were before COVID. We have been saying throughout the past few months that we are all in this together, and that remains true now. We should continue to take precautions in-group settings, whether it is going to work or into the community. It is important that we continue to follow social distancing practices, masking, handwashing and other proper hygiene as we work toward returning to life, as we once knew it. We cannot become complacent at this time. The data shows the mitigation efforts are working. We all must continue our focus on doing our part to slow the spread of COVID-19. Masking is still extremely important. At Geisinger, everyone entering our facilities will be expected to wear a mask”.

Sgt. Andrew Peters, Pennsylvania State Police —“The Pennsylvania State Police continue to urge compliance with the Governor’s orders and the recommendations of the PA Department of Health as Clinton County enters the “green phase” of opening. The “green phase” loosens restrictions, but does not eliminate all safety-measures for citizens and businesses that protect all Pennsylvanians and visitors. For further information, please visit the webpages of the Office of the Governor and the PA Department of Health”.

Incoming Department of Emergency Services Director, Andrew Kremser–“With the lifted restriction of large gatherings there is a very real possibility that a resurgence of infected individuals and positive cases could occur. We need to remember that just because our county has moved to the green phase does not mean that the pandemic is over because the virus is still here. We cannot forget about the safety of our first responders. Our department will continue to use the questionnaire and pre-screen all calls. We will continue to work with the Department of Health and PEMA to evaluate and enter data as it becomes available”.

President of UPMC Lock Haven and Muncy Ron Reynolds — “As counties across Pennsylvania enter the “green” phase of the governor’s plan for reopening, UPMC hopes you feel confident that you can get back to living your life, using simple and impactful measures during your daily routines. It’s important that we continue to follow the guidance of local public health officials, the Pennsylvania Department of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding gathering sizes, social distancing, masking, and sanitizing. Together, we controlled the virus in our communities, and it’s time to restore human interactions and the safe reopening of business. Please be safe and enjoy your summer. Know that we’ll be keeping a close watch on the virus and we’ll be ready to safely care for you and your family no matter what the future brings.”

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