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York City's disaster declaration extended; in-person events canceled

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch
Digital billboards in downtown York City encourage residents to wear a mask to combat the spread of COVID-19.

The York City Council on Tuesday unanimously voted to extend the city's COVID-19 disaster declaration, a move that came the same day as the county saw a record-breaking increase in cases.

The vote extends the disaster declaration, which dates back to mid-March, until Dec. 31.  With 238 new cases being reported in York County on Tuesday, Mayor Michael Helfrich also announced that all in-person events sponsored by the city are canceled until at least next year.

"I'm sorry to be the bearer of this bad news, but saving people's lives is more important than celebrations right now," Helfrich said.

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In-person events that are canceled include Light Up York, the city's annual Christmas celebration that takes place downtown, and the city's New Year's Eve celebration.

The city intends to instead hold online celebrations, Helfrich said, adding that a fireworks display will still take place that residents can watch from their homes.

While officials have said the disaster declaration is mostly symbolic, it does put the city in a better position to receive state and federal aid.

York City is slated to soon receive additional funding, as the City Council on Tuesday approved an agreement with state Health Department for nearly $3 million in grants.

The contract states that the state will reimburse up to $2,979,510 in funds used for COVID-19 mitigation and related efforts through June 30, 2023.

State and local health officials have warned that the state is now in the midst of a fall resurgence, with each day bringing significant case increases.

In response, state Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine on Tuesday announced stricter mask mandates as well as testing requirements for anyone entering the state.

Masks are now required to be worn outdoors if an individual is unable to maintain a 6-foot distance. They must also be worn indoors at all times in the presence of those who do not live in the household.

Anyone visiting from another state also must receive a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours prior to entering the state.

If unable to do so, they must quarantine for 14 days.

“Let's all stick together, work together, and we’ll all be healthy through this,” said York City Council President Henry Nixon.

As of Thursday, there had been 8,825 cases of COVID-19 in York County and 231 deaths linked to the disease since the outbreak began.

Statewide, there were 288,978 cases and 9,581 deaths .

— Logan Hullinger can be reached at lhullinger@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.