The mayor of West Chester issued a state of emergency effective at 6 p.m. Friday, saying a spike in cases of the coronavirus necessitated "temporary, protective regulations."
"The reason for this declaration is the spike in COVID-19 cases in the Borough of West Chester, as reported to the Chester County Health Department in the past 30 days," Mayor Dianne Herrin wrote in a statement to borough residents. "The rate of viral infection is particularly high in the 18- to 22-year-old age group, and infections in the Borough are concentrated in the rental community."
While she did not mention West Chester University by name in the statement, college students are likely to be young and to rent.
The borough had 437 cases of the virus in September 2020 and 68.4% of them - or 299 cases - are in the 18-22 age group, borough data shows. There were 202 cases in August 2020 and 88 of them were in the 18-22 age bracket.
A university spokesperson told NBC10 that students were strongly encouraged to wear masks and practice social distancing to prevent spreading the coronavirus.
"When the first emergency order restricting gatherings in Chester County expired in March, the University continued to enforce police citations for disorderly conduct and our Office of Student Conduct followed-up immediately when details were shared about mask wearing or social distancing," the university statement said. "Now that another emergency declaration has just been imposed in our area, the University will support and strictly enforce it. The University has already posted the declaration on all of its social media platforms."
Mayor Herrin said she is instituting two measures to help prevent the spread of the virus. People found not to be following the new regulations could face a $300 fine from borough police.
10-person limit on gatherings
All indoor and outdoor gatherings must be limited to 10 people or fewer, Herrin said in a statement. When more than 10 people are living in a household, the property cannot host any additional people inside our outside.
Face covering requirement
The other requirement is for masks or other face coverings, Herrin said. Face coverings should be worn in any building open to the public including grocery stores, pharmacies, businesses and medical facilities. Also on public transportation, inside a rideshare vehicle, in lines outside a building, or any other time you come into contact close than 6 feet with anyone outside your household.