MERCER – County commissioners are looking forward to Mercer County’s move to the green phase in six days, even expressing frustration that the action was not taken sooner.

“I think we should have went to green this Friday, so it’s overdue,” Commissioner Matt McConnell said.

Gov. Tom Wolf announced Friday that Mercer County will move next Friday, June 5, to the green designation of the administration’s “red-yellow-green” reopening protocols. Mercer will go green along with Allegheny, Armstrong, Bedford, Blair, Butler, Cambria, Clinton, Fayette, Fulton, Greene, Indiana, Lycoming, Mercer, Somerset, Washington and Westmoreland.

However, Mercer County lags a week behind most of the other northwestern and north-central Pennsylvania counties that went to yellow on May 8.

The county reported 32 new cases between May 8 and May 22, but more than half of the spike was attributed to a single outbreak in Farrell.

Earlier this week, the commissioners, state Sen. Michele Brooks, R-50, Jamestown, and state Reps. Mark A. Longietti, D-7, Hermitage, and Timothy Bonner, R-8, Pine Township, sent a letter to the governor requesting that Mercer County move to green Friday along with other neighboring counties.

Commissioner Scott Boyd said he was relieved for the sake of the counties’ small businesses.

“Of course I’m frustrated that the letter didn’t convince the governor to open up as of today,” Boyd said Friday. “Many of our businesses are continuing to suffer. Today would’ve been a great time in these times when businesses suffer lost revenue and from not serving their customers.”

Boyd said that his sense is that people are getting more frustrated that the county is not opening back up, seeing the number of COVID-19 cases going down.

“Next Friday is better than nothing,” Boyd said. “We’ll look forward to next week and continued positive statistics in Mercer County that will get us back to normal as soon as possible. We’d really like to get things back to normal and allow businessmen to save their companies.”

McConnell said he is frustrated that people are traveling to Ohio to utilize their small business services.

“We need to visit our local businesses here ... people are coming from as far away as Pittsburgh to go to Sportsclips (in Ohio),” McConnell said. “They had more cases in the past week than we’ve had total, so it’s ill-advised for our residents to travel over there.”

McConnell cautioned that going to the green phase does not necessarily mean “go.”

“We need to keep washing our hands, stay cautious and stay healthy,” McConnell said. “We have to return to a certain amount of normalcy, but if you’re at high risk, still have someone pick up groceries for you. Masks are still encouraged, social distancing, etc.”

McConnell said the green designation doesn’t mean the virus is no longer a threat.

“There may be an increase,” McConnell said. “Please protect those that can be most impacted. We all need to be careful.”

Boyd also warned people to be cautious.

“We will continue to encourage people to use safety measures to make sure they’re protected as we get back to normal status,” Boyd said.

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