Vaccinated or not, York City Hall to require masks at all times

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch
Martha Leipold, left, who receives at-home support from The Arc Baltimore, gets a vaccine shot from nurse Patricia Reese, right, during a January vaccine distribution event at The Arc headquarters. (Barbara Haddock Taylor/Baltimore Sun/TNS)

York City residents and city employees are now required to mask up in City Hall — even if they are fully vaccinated.

Mayor Michael Helfrich announced the policy Monday, citing the spread of the highly contagious delta variant and surge in cases locally. The mandate is effective immediately.

"We’ve seen a pretty rapid increase in the city," Helfrich said. "We’ve gone up 300% in a week. We’re higher than we were since the beginning of June. Still not bad, but it’s going the wrong direction pretty rapidly.”

With upcoming events in the city such as First Friday, he added, the city is also requiring unvaccinated residents in particular to wear a mask.

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Cases are surging both in the city and the county as a whole.

As of Monday, the county saw 82 cases per 100,000 people over the last 14 days. That's a 164.5% increase over the last 14-day period, when the case rate was 31 per 100,000 people.

The case rate is the highest it's been since early June.

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Still, county spokesperson Mark Walters said he is unaware of any plans to implement a similar mask mandate in the York County Administrative Center.

The state Health Department has also said it's not considering reinstating a statewide mask mandate, instead continuing its campaign to get as many residents vaccinated as possible.

Currently, about 52% of residents are fully vaccinated at the state level. In York County, 47% have been fully vaccinated, according to an analysis by The New York Times.

“Getting vaccinated gives us the power to fight COVID-19 and provides the best protection against the COVID-19 virus and variants, including the highly transmissible delta variant,” Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam said in a statement.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week had already revised its masking guidelines, recommending that even fully vaccinated people wear masks indoors if they live in areas where cases are surging.

The decision was predicated on new research that shows breakthrough cases associated with the delta variant are on the rise — and some fully vaccinated individuals can still transmit the disease.

In the U.S. as a whole, the CDC"s most recent data shows that the delta variant was found in 82.2% of test samples.

More:Delta variant is rising. Breakthrough infections, too. How should I protect myself?

In the region that includes Delaware, Washington, D.C, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia, 65.6% of samples contained the variant.

Data specific to Pennsylvania was not available.

There were 101 additional COVID-19 cases reported in York County since Friday, bringing the total to 47,571 since the outbreak began, the state Health Department reported

Of those cases, 27 were reported on Saturday, 39 were reported on Sunday and 35 were reported on Monday.

There were no new deaths reported, leaving the total at 838. There have been 168,558 patients who have tested negative for COVID-19 in the county, about 3.4% of the total 4,921,915 negative patients in the state.

Statewide, the case total hit 1,227,519, an increase of 3,019 cases over the three-day period. The state has seen a 216% increase in cases over the last 14 days, according to an analysis by The New York Times.

About 97% of patients in the state have recovered. There were also seven new deaths reported. The death toll now stands at 27,857.

Editor's Note: Graphs showing the number of daily COVID-19 cases and deaths for York County sometimes have different day-to-day totals than the numbers reported in The York Dispatch’s daily COVID-19 updates because of the way the data is reported to the state Department of Health.

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