County correct to deny funding to move residents

Nobody wants to come off sounding like they don’t have compassion. So it had to be with great difficulty that the Lycoming County commissioners decided against a request to provide $250,000 in county funds toward a move of some residents from the ManorCare Jersey Shore, which was a COVID-19 hotspot early on in the pandemic, into a hotel.

The fact that the vote was split shows the difficulty in making this decision.

In the end, though, we believe the commissioners made the right decision in this matter.

Like others, we question if this would have been an appropriate use of county funds.

We also are concerned about the near future and the ability of the county to fund important operations ranging from emergency management to criminal justice to county planning to voter services — the list goes on. It’s why we pay taxes to begin with.

And now, as we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, and as we face great challenges in reopening Pennsylvania, a major concern has to be what this coronavirus has done to the economy. Surely there will be ripple effects that will result in lower tax collections as the year wears on. We’ve already heard these concerns.

Let’s remember, businesses are trying to reopen after being closed since mid-March. And the real pain from record unemployment is yet to come as those still without work try to pay taxes not only to the county but also their municipality and school district.

We hear from senior citizens, too, who face losing their homes to tax sales. It makes us wonder, will future tax sale lists be even longer than normal?

We understand that past decisions to fund a golf course, extensive real estate purchases and other entities raise valid questions by the supporters of this proposal. We can only hope that the commissioners will recognize the perception of misplaced priorities these past decisions have invited and be more cautious and frugal about such decisions in the future.

There are other issues, too, with this request.

Should the county be involved in paying for health care? Why didn’t the county receive requests for help from family members of those who would be moved by the Center for Independent Living, albeit with the right intention of saving lives? Is the coronavirus still rampant at ManorCare Jersey Shore?

We are told it is not. We are told that, after an initial 23 deaths there and an even higher number of cases of COVID-19, all but one patient still at the facility has recovered. This is another very good reason for the decision made by the commissioners.

Any number of facilities such as ManorCare Jersey Shore could have been unlucky enough to become a hotspot for infection. We are fortunate that it was limited to this one site in our county, given what has happened with nursing facilities across the state and nation.

By now, we need to realize just how much worse it could have been and the value of CDC protocols to prevent future spread until COVID-19 no longer poses a threat.


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