The State of Altoona during the COVID-19 shutdown

Local News

ALTOONA, Pa. (WTAJ) — It’s been 57 days since Governor Wolf’s initial order for all non-essential businesses in the Commonwealth to close. 47 days since the first confirmed Coronavirus case in Blair County.

Altoona City Hall closed its doors on March 20th, partially reopening on Monday.

“This is something that you know I don’t think anybody ever imagined that we would go through, but now that it’s here, we’re learning where the communication needs to improve and things that we can do better,” Mayor Matt Pacifico said.

Pacifico said City Council has done its best to help those struggling, but the virus has taken a financial toll.

“Earned income taxes are definitely gonna be lower, and we extended the discount period on property taxes as well, and so that’s gonna come in a little bit lighter than anticipated and projected,” he said.

Pacifico says the city is lobbying for the Federal Government to include local and state in their funding packages. So far, no luck.

“When the time comes to worry about addressing those issues and those problems we’ll do that then, but in the meantime, it was important to try and provide help and assistance to the residents as best as we could now because this was a critical time that people need a little bit of extra help,” he said.

Blair County is one of 13 more counties moving from red to yellow on Friday.

“I think people are still gonna be hesitant to go out to businesses and just to go out in public in general. I think that it’s gonna look very similar to how it looks now,” Pacifico said.

The bigger change could be what life in Altoona will be like in the days, weeks, and months to follow.

“September 11th changed the way that we fly. The 2008 financial crisis changed the way that we borrow money, so I definitely think that there are going to be long-term changes that come out of this. No doubt,” Pacifico said.

Despite the hardships the city and many people are facing right now, Pacifico said one good thing to come out of this pandemic is the community support. From thanking the essential workers to getting groceries for their neighbor, it’s shown the true character of the city and its people.

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