According to records maintained by the state Department of Agriculture, Governor Tom Wolf has now closed 73 restaurants statewide since December 14 over Covid-19 violations. This includes three restaurants in Lehigh County and one in NorCo.
In addition to closing 73 businesses, he's issued Covid-19 warnings to 180 eateries throughout the Commonwealth, including six in Lehigh and one on NorCo. Those warnings were issued the week of December 14-20. No warnings were issued the week of December 21-27. His inspectors just ordered 33 businesses to close.
Since December 14, his agents have responded to 134 Covid-19 complaints from snitches. They've also conducted 730 inspections.
I completely agree that the pandemic is now at its worst point. According to numbers cruncher Steve Thode, Lehigh County has had 8,189 new Covid cases for the month of December (as of Dec. 29) while NorCo reports 6,980. " Lehigh has had as many new cases in the 29 days of December as it had from the beginning of the pandemic up to November 12. NorCo has had as many new cases in the 29 days of December as it had from the beginning of the pandemic up to November 17."
But are restaurants the reason?
Though they've been scapegoated and shuttered with no regard to the financial devastation caused, the real problem is that too little emphasis is placed on contact tracing. During the week of December 6-12 (the last week in which the state DOH has bothered to post data), contact tracers have only made contact with nine percent of those who needed to be advised to quarantine. This makes all the testing meaningless.
In early May, Governor Wolf pledged to create a Commonwealth Civilian Coronavirus Corps to test and trace and provide jobs for those financially impacted by the pandemic. That never happened. Instead of an army of tracers who should be going door-to-door (as they did in Bethlehem during the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic), there are just 230 case investigators statewide. That's no army. This is yet another example of of how badly the state and federal governments have failed its citizenry and local businesses.