Clark County to mirror state guidance regarding masks, social distancing

Clark County leaders say they will follow state guidance as Governor Mike DeWine seeks to roll back Ohio’s mask order along with other coronavirus pandemic rules in June.

The idea is that it would be up to each person as well as local businesses to make their own decisions regarding the wearing of masks, following social distancing as well as other protective measures.

The governor has asked the Ohio Department of Health to remove most coronavirus-related health orders on June 2. However, those that will remain in effect will relate to nursing homes and assisted living centers and pandemic data collection.

DeWine previously said he would remove the orders when cases declined to an average of 50 detected cases per 100,000 residents over two weeks, and while cases have declined to 119.9 cases per 100,000 they aren’t at the original benchmark.

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But in Clark County, new cases reported each week have fallen below that bench mark. Clark County Health Commissioner Charlie Patterson said that area cases continue to fall as new confirmed cases are below 60 each week for the entire county

Patterson said coronavirus-related vaccinations are available and as summer approaches, more people will be spending time outdoors. He said both of those factors can reduce the spread.

However, convincing people to get vaccinated is continuing to be a challenge. The hope is as more people accept the doses it will encourage others to do the same.

“Every person that gets vaccinated offers another barrier (against the virus),” Patterson said.

DeWine announced Wednesday that Ohio will have two lotteries for vaccinated residents, including drawings for $1 million and free college tuition.

The CDC also recommended Thursday that given the latest evidence, if people are fully vaccinated, they can resume activities they did prior to the pandemic.

Patterson said that once coronavirus restrictions are lifted it will be up to businesses and municipalities to implement their own rules. However, he said in Clark County they have not strayed away from the governor’s guidance.

Clark County Commissioner Melanie Flax Wilt said that county commissioners will likely have conversations closer to June related to how the easing of restrictions will be implemented.

Flax Wilt said they have followed mask mandates as well as social distancing protocols throughout the pandemic. However, she believes some of those restrictions have gone on for too long.

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She added that residents have enough information now to implement best practices that will keep themselves and their family members safe.

In terms of the overall business sector, the lifting of restrictions will offer more flexibility for employers and business owners, said Mike McDorman, the president and CEO of the Greater Springfield Partnership.

McDorman said businesses want their employees and customers to feel safe and whatever protocols they choose to adopt reflects that sentiment.

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