COUDERSPORT — Continue to wear a face mask in public areas was the message that the Potter County commissioners sent during the June 4 meeting.
Potter County, after not having an increase in cases since the beginning of April, saw nine cases since Thursday, June 4. With that, Commissioner Barry Hayman said he has seen fewer and fewer people wearing face masks in public. He understood everyone was tired of hearing about and dealing with the coronavirus, but the virus doesn’t care about that. He said he recently heard the slogan, “if you care, you wear,” referring to face masks. Hayman encouraged anyone going into stores or public places to wear a face mask.
“I get a little discouraged when I hear people get upset about the fact that they feel that their rights are being somehow infringed upon by being asked to wear a mask,” Hayman said. “…this is not an infringement on anybody’s civil rights. This is a simple public health request and by wearing a mask you’re demonstrating, probably in the most simplest form and the most basic form, human kindness and concern for others.”
Commissioner Paul Heimel echoed that, saying the virus does not respect county borders. Looking around the region, in both Pennsylvania and New York, there are hundreds of cases and fatalities.
“Measuring case counts and deaths by counties can give you a false sense of security because people travel, as does the virus,” Heimel said.
Heimel also reported that rural counties would receive some financial relief from the coronavirus through federal and state legislation, thanks to all of the efforts made to “effectively lobby for rural counties.”
There are indications in one of the bills that the allotment for Potter County could be just shy of $1.5 million. Right now, details are lacking and there aren’t any clear rules or information on what that money could be used for.
“If it all has to be related to, say, expenses incurred for protective equipment and other measures that were taken to respond to the pandemic, I don’t know if we can come up with $1.5 million worth of measures that were taken,” Heimel said. “But if it can be expanded to help those who have suffered economic losses in the county as one of those entities and if the rules would allow it, we can top $1.5 million in a half hour.”
The next Potter County commissioners meeting will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, June 18. The meeting is open to the public and will be held in the Gunzburger Building conference room; the public can also participate by calling 814-274-0844 and at the prompt, enter PIN 114477#.