LEWISTOWN – With Mifflin County in the midst of a quite sizable increase in the number of COVID-19 infections, the county’s commissioners and public safety office are strongly encouraging all community members to wear masks outside of their own places of residence. 

“Across the state and nationally, the COVID-19 numbers are going up at record levels,” Phil Lucas, director of public safety said.  “We were very fortunate to have essentially missed the first wave of infections, hospital admissions and deaths associated with COVID-19 this past spring, but that is no longer the case.”  

“Actions that were taken in the spring to flatten the curve of infections and deaths, while unpleasant, worked, but unfortunately we are faced with infection numbers which far and exceed the case number we saw this past spring,” Lucas added. 

“Projections are never perfect but it is easy to see that our current case numbers are rising every single day.  Everyone needs to do their part NOW to stop this terrible surge,” Commissioner Kevin Kodish said. 

“Nursing homes are posting significant number of cases affecting both staff and residents.  Our schools do not have enough bus drivers and staff to have normal classes, and our regional hospitals are struggling to have enough staff to take care of their admitted patients.” 

Kodish noted that county municipalities would have the option of enacting mask wearing mandates, as the Borough of State College did back in August. 

Commissioner Mark Sunderland looked ahead to the near future. 

“The most recent projections that the Commonwealth is referencing show that we will continue to see significant numbers of infections and deaths into the January 2021 timeframe,” Sunderland said. 

“Now is the time to reinforce our protective measures – social Distancing, use of masks at all times when social distancing is not available, and limiting your interactions with other people when not necessary.” 

Commissioner Rob Postal noted the lag time that will be present before effects are noticed. 

“Any practices that we put in place now will generally take three weeks to produce any measurable effect,” Postal said.  “The longer we wait to practice effective protective measures only increases the adverse effect of the COVID-19 Pandemic.  We encourage everyone to take a step back, think about what is truly important and take proactive steps to protect themselves, their family and their community.” 

Lucas added, “We each can take steps to keep the death rate low in our community and protect those in our community that are at most risk from COVID-19.  We can’t stop the spread of COVID-19 but we can slow the spread and minimize the direct impacts that it has in our community.  Please act now, it will make a difference!” 

For the foreseeable future, residents should use a mask, any style of mask, maintain social distancing, and not take unnecessary risks/exposures. 

In an effort to limit exposures in public places, effective Monday, November 16 the county courthouse will be open for visitors by appointment only.  A reduced staff will be on duty daily from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.