EBENSBURG, Pa. – Due to an increase in cases of COVID-19 among Cambria County employees, a masking policy has been reinstated at county facilities, the county’s top judge said.

“We’re going back to our August order that requires everybody to be fully masked at all times in the courthouse, regardless of your vaccination status,” President Judge Norman A. Krumenacker III said Friday. “We’re going back to that old order that requires everybody to be masked except when they are at their desk or work station.”

At the beginning of July, Krumenacker lifted the masking policy for vaccinated employees and attorneys with proof of vaccination on file. By the end of July, masks had been reinstated for the courtrooms, leaving individuals with the option of going without masks in hallways and other common areas.

Krumenacker said that the county court system has seen an increase in virus cases, which prompted the most recent order. He said approximately 54 employees had tested positive for the virus since the beginning of November.

“It’s significant enough that I feel that we need to go back to a little stricter standard,” Krumenacker said, “because by Supreme Court order, we must remain open, and part of my job is to make sure that the public and the employees are as safe as possible.”

All employees will be required to disclose their vaccination status to human resources, the judge said.

“We’ve been having issues with individuals – not many, just a few – not following the court order,” Krumenacker said. “This way, it will allow HR to properly monitor the court order relative to the health, safety and well-being of our employees.”

The order is in effect until the end of the year, but Krumenacker said that he will continue to monitor the situation as he has throughout the pandemic and make changes as needed.

“Hopefully, things will improve and we’ll be able to go back to a less restrictive environment,” he said, “but right now, it’s in the best interest of all of us – employees as well as the public – to go back to a stricter standard.”

Katie Smolen is a reporter with The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter @KSmolen1230.

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