– Rep. Bob Brooks (R-Allegheny/Westmoreland) issued the following statement after Gov. Tom Wolf announced that Secretary of Health Rachel Levine, under her authority, is permitted to take any disease-control measure appropriate to protect the public from the spread of infectious disease. Secretary Levine signed an order directing protections for critical workers who are employed at businesses that are authorized to maintain in-person operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Brooks responded by saying:
“I take issue with the governor agreeing with Secretary Levine to order employers to provide employees with masks during this pandemic and making it mandatory they wear it during their time at the business. While I appreciate that employees shouldn’t have to provide their own masks while on the job to work one-on-one with the public, the requirement the governor has placed on citizens, business owners and employees is overly intrusive to our human rights. Especially in settings where employees are not engaged with the public, this raises other serious safety issues.
“I have talked to business owners who run production lines in the 54th District, and they state that wearing a mask can be a safety hazard for various reasons, including:
• Hot environment can cause shortness of breath and restricts breathing.
• A mask obstructs the position of safety glasses and ultimately the vision of the employee.
• If an employee uses a bandana or another type of homemade mask that hangs from their face, it becomes a catch point for clamps or motorized equipment.
• The heat of an employee’s breath moves upward toward the eyes and causes fogging.
• A large group of employees have told employers that they would not report to work if mandated to wear a mask.
“This executive order is flawed because I believe a store owner should not deny entry to any citizen who does not wear a mask. Yes, it is important to continue to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, use social distancing, wash your hands and cough into a tissue or elbow.
“Western Pennsylvania citizens aren’t without knowledge, but the governor’s advisers who use him as their spokesperson, seem to think we are and that is not true.
“As we review the statistics of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania, the data does not support such an attack on our civil liberties. I do understand selective quarantines to specific cities and demographics due to susceptibility, especially those in health care and long-term care settings.
“This ‘one-size-fits-all’ mandate due to a few select hot spots in the Commonwealth is destroying our economy and the morale and sanity of those living in other areas.
“Before more businesses close their doors forever, we need to allow those that can operate safely under federal guidelines to open. House and Senate Republicans recently approved Senate Bill 613, legislation that would require Gov. Tom Wolf to develop and implement a plan to mitigate COVID-19 for businesses and allow those businesses that can meet the requirements of that plan to reopen. Wolf has indicated he will veto the bill which means, Pennsylvania’s economy will continue to suffer.
“We need to protect our senior citizens and those most vulnerable, but we cannot allow the governor to destroy our state. With unemployment at record numbers, we need to get Pennsylvanians back to work safely. Let’s not continue to destroy the economy by making unnecessary mandates.”
“Feel free to call me at 724-335-2790 or 724-387-1281 if you have a question or concern. You can also call or email the governor’s office here
Representative Bob Brooks
54th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Rick Leiner
717.260.6437 (office), 717.497.8478 (cell)