Officials: York County employee had 'no close contact' with public; questions remain
The York County Judicial Center employee who has tested positive for the coronavirus had no close contact with the public, according to a statement from the York County Commissioners sent out Thursday afternoon.
The county considers "close contact" to mean having more than 15 minutes of unmasked contact at a distance of less than 6 feet with a person who has tested positive for the virus, according to the commissioners. That's also the state health department's definition.
"Internally, the County has informed its employees of the positive test result and proactively taken appropriate measures to ensure their health and safety in accordance with the guidance and recommendations issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Pennsylvania Department of Health," the statement reads.
It states that county officials take all reports of virus exposure very seriously and that they continue to follow "procedural safeguards" that are in line with CDC and state health-department guidelines and recommendations.
Questions submitted by The York Dispatch weren't answered. York County spokesperson Mark Walters wrote in an email, "The commissioners will not say anything further about this."
Which office? County officials have refused to confirm whether the employee works in the prothonotary's office and did not answer whether the employee dealt with the public at the prothonotary counter without wearing a mask.
The prothonotary's office, like other public offices in the judicial center, has had sheets of Plexiglas-type plastic at front counters between workers and the public in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Such sheets have also been added to courtrooms.
Commissioners have not said whether other employees who had contact with the infected employee are self-quarantining, or whether any others have come down with COVID-19.
They also did not provide details about what they said have been the county's proactive measures to ensure the health and safety of employees and the public while inside the judicial center.
The state Department of Health would have no information about the case that it can share publicly, according to press secretary Nate Wardle.
Masks mandatory: York County sheriff's deputies who handle security at the center's front entrance take the temperatures of everyone entering the building, both workers and the public, and turn away everyone with fevers, Sheriff Rich Keuerleber has said.
Those deputies also instruct everyone to don a mask before entering the building, he said. A sign at the front door states masks are mandatory.
But a number of county employees and members of the public aren't wearing masks inside the seven-story building and Keuerleber said he hasn't instructed his deputies to direct people to put them on because they might have medical conditions that exempt them from wearing masks.
President Common Pleas Judge Joseph C. Adams has issued an order that makes donning masks mandatory in public areas of the judicial center by both employees and the public.
"It is very frustrating," Adams told The York Dispatch on Wednesday. "There is a loophole, and people are going through it."
— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.