Bucks County virtual town hall addresses need for more testing, supplies

EAGLEVILLE, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — Bucks County commissioners held a community town hall on Facebook Live Monday, answering questions from residents about everything from small business loans to mandatory face masks.

One of the bigger questions: How can Pennsylvania get to the point where it has enough tests to safely re-open schools and other businesses?

Commissioner Diane Marseglia, a Democrat, said they’re working with Bucks County-based manufacturers to try to get supplies. 

“I believe because it’s a national problem, this is the responsibility of the federal government to get going on this,” she noted. “They can do the War Powers Act to get the things anted up and really make these tests faster. So it’s everyone’s responsibility, and we’re all working on that.”

Democrat Bob Harvie said the county is doing what it can to get testing equipment and other supplies, but he agreed that the federal government needs to be doing more, especially to help states acquire what they need.

“It’s been almost every man for themselves, in terms of getting PPE and testing equipment,” he said. “We’re in competition as a community, as a health department here in Bucks County, as a commonwealth with other states, other health departments, other counties, trying to find vendors who can fill our orders. And that, of course, is driving prices up. So that’s another reason why you need someone in control of this at a higher level who can work with all the states to make sure everybody can get what they need.”

Without widespread testing, Harvie said it is too early to open many businesses, but he believes it’s time to start planning what can open and when.

Republican Gene DiGirolamo, however, said it is up to federal, state and local officials to get their own supplies.

“We should not be pointing fingers at one or the other and saying, ‘It’s their fault, it’s their fault.’ Everybody is in this together. We should all be working together,” he said. “Federal, local and state should be working on this.”

DiGirolamo added that the worst thing that could happen is social distancing efforts are rolled back too quickly.

“We have to listen to our health care people and our scientists and our medical people,” he continued. “They will help us decide and give us a good indication when it might be safe to start opening some of these businesses.”

But the most frightening concern for Marseglia: Some people are still commenting that the numbers of cases are fake, or the dangers of coronavirus are made up.

“It’s also the thing that could hold us back from moving on,” she said, “because when people think it is fake, then they go out and they don’t wear their masks, or they don’t stay home or they don’t stay 6 feet apart. 

“This is very real. Talk to some of the families who have lost someone or who have had someone sick. We will get through this, but it is real and we really need you to not spread fake news and say all of that right now.”