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County emergency declaration extended

Lycoming County commissioners had no sooner agreed to extend the county’s Declaration of Disaster Emergency with the state before they began arguing about COVID-19 guidelines, particularly with regard to wearing masks.

The official declaration helps the county remain eligible for government funding for issues related to the coronavirus.

“I think this is great we extend this,” Commissioner Rick Mirabito said.

He then noted how people in some places of the world are being moved from congregate living areas to hotels to better protect them from COVID-19.

“I am wondering if we are doing everything we can in line with our own declaration,” he said.

Last week, county officials announced that the wearing of masks in county buildings are now optional, but Mirabito said they should be required.

Masks, he noted, are preventive measures for keeping in check the spread of coronavirus.

“I know we are living in a rural county where you don’t see many cases. I always think it’s better to err on the side of caution,” he said.

Commissioner Tony Mussare noted there was a huge difference between a rural, sparsely populated county such as Lycoming and cities such as New York, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

“I don’t have an issue with wearing a mask, but many people do. Why is it that people don’t want to wear a mask?” he said. “Some people may feel their constitutional rights are taken away.”

Mussare noted the social unrest throughout the nation, with statues torn down, police shot at and businesses destroyed by “thugs.”

He suggested that perhaps the refusal to wear masks represents a means of protest.

Read more in Wednesday’s Williamsport Sun-Gazette.

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