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County commissioners focus on economic recovery

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The Bucks County commissioners are continuing to push for parts of the county to be moved from red to yellow, under the state’s plan to re-open the economy.

During a recent virtual news conference, the three-member board discussed a range of topics, including its newly formed economic recovery task force.

Bob Harvie, vice chairman of the commissioners, is leading the task force, that’s been formed with members of the Bucks County Chamber of Commerce, private businesspeople, a bank president and other business-minded professionals.

As the COVID-19 pandemic forced countless businesses to close and millions across the country to lose their jobs, communities around the nation are struggling to find ways to safely reopen their economies.

“The best way to help businesses to start opening is to begin asking questions now,” said Harvie. “We need to understand the guidelines we’ll need to operate under when we move from red to yellow.”

The county, Harvie said, is compiling a resource list for businesses to find help with advertising, networking and more. The task force will continue meeting for the next several weeks, added Harvie.

As Bucks and other counties across Pennsylvania battle with Gov. Wolf’s administration over when and how to reopen, the commissioners stressed the need for ongoing caution.

“Health and safety are all our top priorities,” said Commissioner Gene DiGirolamo, during the briefing.

However, the commissioners said, the emails and phone calls they get, are split “about 50/50” between economic and health concerns.

“We hear how workers and unemployed people are having a hard time paying bills and are desperate to work,” said DiGirolamo. “I think we can find a place in the middle where we can meet … open some businesses, with limits.”

Asked about what businesses might open first, the director of the county’s health department, Dr. David Damsker, said retail stores are likely to be among the first. “A lot of stores are working now to meet the guidelines,” he said.

Realtors too, could be considered for re-opening, said DiGirolamo. “I think they can sell homes safely …with no large open houses.

“Everyone has an investment in doing this safely,” added, Diane Ellis-Marseglia, chairwoman of the board.

The commissioners said they are cooperating with other county officials in Southeastern Pennsylvania, saying they collaborate daily on matters such as buying supplies, virus outbreaks and government closings. “The tenor is very good,” said Harvie.


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