ALTOONA – Blair County has continually had lower numbers of COVID-19 cases compared to other counties that have been allowed to begin the reopening process. However, Blair County was not included in the first round of counties that are permitted to reopen on Friday. In response to Gov. Tom Wolf’s choice to keep Blair County businesses closed and workers at home, Rep. Lou Schmitt (R-Blair) appealed to the governor urging him to reconsider his decision.
“On Monday, I handcarried a letter directly to the governor’s office in Harrisburg on behalf of the citizens of Blair County. In it, I made the case for the governor to move the county from red status to yellow,” Schmitt said. “It is my hope that Gov. Wolf will be persuaded by my arguments and do right by Blair County.”
There were 25 cases in Blair County as of Wednesday.
“Governor, you should know that Blair County has a per capita virus case count that is lower – and in some cases drastically lower – that the vast majority of the 24 counties moving to Yellow status as of May 8. Just to take one example, Blair County shares a border with Centre County. Many citizens from Blair County work in Centre County and vice versa. Throughout this entire crisis Centre County’s per capita virus case count has been and continues to be significantly higher that Blair County’s per capita virus case count. And yet, Centre County is moving to yellow status. Blair County is not,” Schmitt wrote in the letter.
“In terms of appropriate population density to contain community spread, I recognize that the city of Altoona, with a population of approximately 44,000 people, is situated within Blair County. However, the county of Erie also takes in the city of Erie, with its population of over 96,000. I fail to see how Erie County, with a city more than double the population of the largest city in Blair County, has a more appropriate population density to contain community spread. And yet, Erie County is moving to yellow status. Blair County is not,” Schmitt continued.
Schmitt asked the governor to take action on his request with regard to Blair County’s reopening status by no later than Friday, May 8.
Editor’s Note: A pdf copy of the letter is attached
Representative Lou Schmitt
79th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Greg Gross