The state Department of Health (DOH) has created an online “COVID-19 Complaint Form” where the public can report businesses that aren’t following public health guidelines.
Posted on the DOH website April 23, the form asks for information about the business, the individual’s relationship to the business and the public health complaint.
Nate Wardle, press secretary for the DOH, said the form was created with public safety and education in mind.
“Our goal in this endeavor is to educate people on appropriate social distancing and mitigation efforts so that Pennsylvanians can protect one another from COVID-19,” he said.
State Rep. Rich Irvin questions whether state resources are being effectively used to help Pennsylvanians.
“When I first heard about the snitch line paid for from the Department of Health I thought, ‘Really? Don’t you have something better to do with your time?’” he said. “I feel our resources would be more appropriately used to ensure our unemployed and small business owners get a response back from the Labor and Industry Department.”
The online form has a list of a dozen complaints to select from, including social distancing not being practiced, employers not providing or allowing cloth masks, businesses not cleaning “high-touch” surfaces, and “lack of communication regarding COVID-19 cases.”
Irvin believes the public is capable of making the appropriate decisions for themselves.
“I admit there are three different kinds of people. People who are afraid of getting sick, people afraid of getting other people sick and people afraid of going broke,” he said. “Looking at those three different categories, I don’t think this is good policy for our state to go along with. I have a lot of confidence in our public making sure they take care of their own person.”
Irvin sees the measure as inappropriate, noting there is already the means of enforcement in place on the local level.
“People know if they can go back to work and practice social distancing and the health guidelines outlined for reopening. I look at it as a government overreach and it’s already in place right now,” he said. “State police in Huntingdon receive calls and can enforce as they see fit.”
Wardle said that the DOH has received over 1,000 complaints to date, forwarding them to “the appropriate regulatory agency to follow up, where appropriate.”
“There have not been any fines, citations or closures at this time,” he said.
Nathan can be reached at email@example.com.