Masks mandated for staff, visitors in Luzerne County buildings

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WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — The Acting Manager for Luzerne County told Eyewitness News it all comes down to an increase in daily COVID cases reported in the county. Requiring mask-wearing again is catching many off guard.

When Dominick Rogo showed up Tuesday morning at the Luzerne County Courthouse, he expected to see security, but he wasn’t counting on wearing a mask.

“I had no clue about this mask situation being started again. I thought we were over this,” Rogo said. “It’s kind of ridiculous. It’s not something we want to deal with again.”

But masks became a requirement at the courthouse and every other county-run building because of the substantial COVID community spread in Luzerne County. The CDC defines substantial spread as 50 COVID cases for every 100,000. Luzerne County averaged 55 between July 26 and August 1.

“Given the significant rise in the number of cases along with the CDC guidelines, I decided to institute a mask policy here in the county,” said Romilda Crocamo, Luzerne County Acting Manager.

Crocamo says she also consulted with local healthcare and medical professionals.

“What we don’t want to see is a situation that we experienced months ago, where our hospitals are inundated with COVID patients,” Crocamo said.

Not everyone is on board with the idea masks will help or are needed.

“I don’t believe in any of it. I mean if it’s that big of a virus, how is that little piece of cloth going to keep it out,” asks Exeter resident, Ronny Ramirez

But Crocamo says she received emails from county workers thanking her for the mask mandate. She also has another key supporter.

“You have to protect people,” Luzerne County Council Chairman Tim McGinley states. Chairman McGinley believes masks are a smart move given the rise in infections and in high-traffic county properties like the courthouse.

“You’re trying to protect the people who come in and out, the workers who are located here and, you know, cut down on the chance of infection,” McGinley said.

Eyewitness News should point out three other counties in Northeastern Pennsylvania have a substantial community spread of COVID-19. Two of them, Wyoming and Pike counties, have no current plans for a mask mandate. While Eyewitness News is waiting to hear back from Monroe county.

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