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Lycoming County officials talk green phase operations

Lycoming County officials said entering the green phase of Gov. Tom Wolf’s reopening plan is a step forward, while noting that precautions remain in place to ensure people are safe from COVID-19.

“I am encouraged but cautious,” Commissioner Rick Mirabito said during a press conference in the commissioners’ meeting room at Executive Plaza Monday.

Joining Mirabito were other county officials including Commissioner Scott Metzger, Sheriff Mark Lusk, President Judge Nancy Butts and Matthew McDermott, chief clerk/director of administration.

“As of today, county buildings are open,” Metzger said.

However, people in need of county services should continue to make appointments before visiting various departments.

“Green is not our final destination,” he said.

Metzger said county officials meet regularly to discuss strategy for operating county government.

Mirabito said no one has a crystal ball to predict when the coronavirus pandemic will end.

“We want to be cautious and aware of a second wave,” he said. “Pandemics often have a resurgence.”

While stay-at-home orders have been suspended for the county, a number of coronavirus guidelines remain in place.

Gatherings of more than 250 people are prohibited, excluding places of worship.

“We must continue to use common sense,” he said. “A virus doesn’t live on its own. It needs a host,” he said. “We do all of this to protect the most vulnerable.”

Butts said people doing court business should conduct it by mail, if possible.

“We are trying to discourage as much foot traffic as possible,” she said.

Jury trials, she noted, have been pushed back until August.

All precautions with respect to COVID-19 will be taken in jury selection and conducting trials, which often draw their share of people to the courthouse.

In the meantime, all efforts are being made to disinfect court rooms and other areas.

McDermott said visitors to county buildings must continue to wear masks.

Lusk said personnel are continuing to help people who come to his office for services that include gun permits and Protection From Abuse orders.

“You need to wear a mask to come to our office,” he said. “If you forget one, we will provide one.”

Metzger said businesses such as restaurants restricted to operate at 50 percent customer capacity under the green phase need to get back to normal business operations.

“I think Lycoming County has done a phenomenal job,” Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce President Jason Fink said.

“We need to move beyond the green phase. We need to get back to living,” he said. “We need to be doing things again”

“None of us want to be in the predicament we are in,” Mirabito told the Sun-Gazette.

The governor’s guidelines, he said, have been developed from scientific evidence with the data used to protect citizens.

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