“We were caught off guard”: Midstate organizations happy but scrambling to adapt

Coronavirus in Pennsylvania

YORK COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — It was a good problem to have, compared to a lot of problems during this past year. Still, the CDC’s move Thursday was a big shock.

“When the news came out, we were caught off guard,” Jonah Geller, CEO of the York Jewish Community Center (JCC), said Friday of the CDC’s updated guidance. Thursday afternoon, the CDC gave the green-light vaccinated adults to go unmasked indoors, in many cases.

At the JCC — as at organizations across the region, state, and nation — executives gathered Friday morning to decide what to do next. Their decision: no immediate decision, other than to notify members that current masking rules would remain in place until at least early next week. In the meantime, a medical advisory committee — that’s “a group of doctors who obviously know about our facility and know about the guidelines,” Geller explained — will have had a chance to consider everything.

“All things are going to be put on the table,” he said. “But clearly safety is going to be number one.”

So for now, masks remain the rule in hallways and other common spaces. It’s okay to take off your mask eating in the cafe or in the gym if you need to, and you’re not near someone else. That’s what Halie DePalmer, a high school student exercising there Friday morning, said she sometimes does.

“In here when I’m lifting, sometimes I take it off because I get just really overly sweaty and tired, and I need to catch a breath,” DePalmer said. But only then.

Her personal approach? Not so different, you might say, from the CDC’s new guidance.

“We don’t have to go crazy, she said. “But I think it’s really important to still take precautions.”

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