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Borough Council Passes Temporary COVID-19 Ordinance In State College

The State College Borough Council met Monday night and unanimously passed another temporary COVID-19 emergency ordinance that tightens mask-wearing guidelines in the borough.

Under the passed ordinance, borough businesses and public facilities must require all employees, customers, and visitors to wear masks while indoors. Based on recommendations from the borough’s Board of Health, masks are required for everyone 2 years and older, regardless of vaccination status.

The ordinance will remain in effect through Monday, November 22. Anyone found in violation of it could face a $300 fine.

The ordinance’s restrictions remain in place only while COVID-19 transmission in Centre County remains “high,” according to the Centers for Disease Control. Every county in Pennsylvania is currently experiencing “high” community transmission, according to the CDC. Any county with more than 100 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days falls under “high” transmission.

Community transmission levels for the current seven-day period between September 5 and 11.

State College’s Board of Health unanimously recommended the proposed ordinance when it met on September 2. The board avoided recommending additional restrictions on gathering size limits for businesses, public facilities, and private properties.

Councilman Evan Myers said the council’s adoption of the ordinance should give State College a boost when it comes to protecting vulnerable community members.

“This is another step to protect the public health,” Myers said. “It’s to protect our children because they can’t get vaccinated…This is an unselfish act that helps protect the most vulnerable of our society.”

Nearly a dozen community members spoke during the open debate for the policy, creating a near-even split of supporters and critics. A few people argued over the effectiveness of commonly worn surgical masks.

Councilwoman Theresa Lafer was the most outspoken supporter among the Borough Council. She reiterated that adopting the policy is significant on more than the individual level.

“Saying, ‘Well, I want the freedom to not have a mask on my face,’ is childish, selfish, and just bad citizenship,” Lafer said. “You want to get sick? That’s your right. You do not have the right to make the rest of the world sick.”

Last August, the Borough Council adopted a similar, now-rescinded policy enforcing mask-wearing and social distancing requirements. The latter are not included in Monday’s newly approved ordinance.

The borough’s adopted ordinance helps it align more closely with Penn State’s campus-wide policies. Currently, all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, must wear a mask inside campus buildings.

We’ll update this post with more information as it becomes available.

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

Matt proudly served as Onward State’s managing editor for two years until graduating from Penn State with distinction in May 2022. Now, he’s off in the real world doing real things. Send him an email ([email protected]) or follow him on Twitter (@mattdisanto_) to stay in touch.

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