York City Council votes to renew COVID-19 disaster declaration

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch
York City Mayor Michael Helfrich offers face masks to those without as about 100 people gather in Continental Square in peaceful protest for George Floyd, to remember those who have died at the hands of police and to celebrate the communication experienced throughout the week between community members and officials in York City, Friday, June 5, 2020. Dawn J. Sagert photo

The York City Council on Monday unanimously voted to extend the city's COVID-19 disaster declaration, which will now be in effect until July 31.

Although the declaration has been described as mostly symbolic, it does put the city in a better position to receive state aid, officials have said. The council has continued to extend the declaration since Mayor Michael Helfrich first made the decision in mid-March.

“If we don’t extend the emergency declaration, we could be denied some of those funds," said Councilman Lou Rivera. "That’s not a good look nor what we as elected officials signed up to do."

The declaration is primarily meant to give the city more flexibility in utilizing resources to contain the spread of the virus as well as to better educate the public about best health practices.

More:Coronavirus pandemic: Here's what York County's data looks like

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The extension comes a week after Gov. Tom Wolf's administration expanded its mask-wearing mandate, requiring Pennsylvanians to wear face coverings essentially any time they leave their homes.

Fears of spikes in COVID-19 cases have also resurfaced, as states in the Sun Belt and the West continue to see drastic increases in case counts.

In Pennsylvania, Allegheny County has witnessed spikes, causing county officials to slam the brakes on reopening efforts.

“We are not through this global pandemic,” Helfrich said. “We got a little bit of reprieve here, but if we want to stay open, try to keep our businesses open, try to keep our economy going, we need to be extra precautious.”

As of Monday, York County had seen 1,613 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 since the outbreak began, according to the state health department. No new deaths were recorded in the county for the day, leaving the total at 54.

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