Senator Laughlin Files RTK Requests on Erie County’s “Yellow” Status

In an effort to determine the rationale and motivation behind Erie County’s continued status as a “yellow” county under the Administration’s COVID-19 reopening plan, Senator Dan Laughlin filed Right to Know (RTK) requests for the public release of correspondence between the state and Erie County since May 1.

“The question behind my RTK requests is very simple, ‘Who is keeping Erie County yellow?’ Is it primarily the state or county officials behind this? I want to know who is behind this and the people of Erie County deserve to know it as well,” Senator Laughlin said.

Senator Laughlin’s RTK requests — filed with the county and state officials — ask for all communications (emails, text messages, and written correspondence) between Erie County officials (the Department of Health, the County Executive, Gary Lee and Rich Perhacs and other members of the County Executive’s staff) and state officials (the Governor, the Health Secretary and officials with the Department of Health and PEMA) regarding Erie County’s phase designation since May 1. 

Senator Laughlin is also requesting all internal Erie County correspondence between the Department of Health, the County Executive and the County Executive’s staff regarding Erie County’s phase designation. 

“As the past few weeks have gone by, we have watched Erie remain in the yellow phase while other counties – some with significantly higher COVID-19 counts – have moved on to green.  This is particularly the case when you compare Erie to Dauphin County (Harrisburg) which is going green on Friday,” said Senator Laughlin.

“There are 168 cases per 100,000 residents in Erie County compared to 589 cases per 100,000 residents in Dauphin County.  Dauphin has had 107 deaths and Erie only has seven,” Senator Laughlin said. “In addition, Erie County has averaged 11 new cases per-day over the last two weeks, while Dauphin is averaging just over double that,”  Senator Laughlin. “There is no reason for this. The ambiguous answer we were given for staying yellow was that our rates have gone up. The whole process has been very opaque. We deserve answers. We deserve to know who exactly is calling the shots.” 

Contact:           Matt Azeles       

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