COVID concerns: All York County buildings closed to public starting today

Lindsey O'Laughlin
York Dispatch

York County will close all county buildings to the public beginning Dec. 21, and continuing through Jan. 8, in an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 around the holidays, county officials announced Wednesday.

Offices will reopen to the public Jan. 11, officials said.

York County Commissioner Julie Wheeler said the closures are an anticipatory measure based on the spike in positive cases after the Thanksgiving holiday, which is why they won't go into effect immediately.

"We thought that in an abundance of caution, we should close the buildings to the public," she said.

County offices will still offer appointments to the public on an as-needed basis.

York County Prison, the York County Youth Development Center, the sheriff's office and the county's emergency services, along with some court-related services, will continue their regular 24-hour operations, officials said.

York County Parks' Christmas Magic, an outdoor event, will continue through the closure, and outdoor recreation at county parks will still be allowed.

The county has seen record-breaking numbers of COVID-19 cases in recent weeks and a spike in deaths attributed to the virus.

As of noon Wednesday, 273 people in York County had died from the virus, and there were a total of 14,950 cases reported, according to the state Department of Health.

Statewide, there were 8,703 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the case total to 445,317.

Gov. Tom Wolf also announced Wednesday that he had tested positive for the virus and was isolating at home.

York County celebrates its 270th birthday by lighting the domes on top of the York County Administrative Center, Monday, August 19, 2019. The lighting of the domes concluded a day of tours of the center and the ringing of the bells. John A. Pavoncello photo

The county's announcement comes after a string of other government offices closed to the public, or greatly restricted public access, in recent days.

The York County District Attorney's Office has been open by appointment only since Dec. 2, and District Judge Barry Bloss Jr.'s office in Springettsbury Township announced Monday it would be closed to the public until further notice after an employee there tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19.

And several employees in the York County Judicial Center have tested positive for the virus since the outbreak began, including the prothonotary office and the clerk of courts office.

County officials have said it's difficult to enforce mask-wearing mandates inside the judicial center due to privacy concerns and the Americans with Disabilities Act's restrictions on requiring citizens to disclose whether they have a medical condition that prevents them from wearing a mask.

York County first closed government buildings to the public in March after the Board of Commissioners issued an emergency declaration. That was also around the time the governor announced his administration's statewide mitigation efforts, which included business closures and a stay-at-home order.

The county reopened to the public in April, at which time nearly 300 county employees were furloughed. York City also furloughed about 100 of its employees.

More:York County has 6 new COVID-19 deaths, 514 additional cases

More:Doug Dzubinski, longtime York County EMT, dies of COVID-19