Mask mandate for Ohio counties with high risk of coronavirus: What you need to know

Coronavirus

CLEVELAND (WJW)– An order from Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and the Ohio Department of Health now requires masks in public for counties in Level 3 and Level 4 of the Public Health Advisory Alert System, which measures the risk of coronavirus.

Added to Level 3: Athens, Allen, Delaware, Licking, Lucas, Richland, Scioto and Union.

Remains at Level 3: Butler, Cuyahoga, Clermont, Fairfield, Franklin, Hamilton, Lorain, Montgomery, Pickaway, Summit and Wood.

Trumbull County was moved from Level 3 to Level 2.

When masks are required:

  • In any indoor location that is not a residence
  • Outdoors when unable to maintain 6 feet of distance from individuals who are not members of the same household
  • Waiting for, riding, driving or operating public transportation. Includes taxi, private car service or ride sharing. Does not apply to private or rental vehicles where members of a family are sharing the vehicle

Exceptions:

  • Those under the age of 10
  • Those with respiratory conditions that restrict breathing, mental health conditions or disability that suggests a mask should not be worn
  • Those who are communicating with someone with a hearing impairment, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication
  • Those who are alone in an enclosed space, such as an office, which is not intended for use or access by the public
  • Those actively involved in exercise at a gym if 6 feet of separation exists
  • Those participating in athletic practice, scrimmage or competition that is permitted under a different Ohio Department of Health order
  • Those who work in public safety, including law enforcement, firefighters or paramedics
  • When face coverings are in violation of documents industry standards
  • When face coverings are a violation of a business’ document safety policies
  • Those actively participating in broadcast communications
  • Those who officiate religious services

Enforcement:

Violation of the order is a misdemeanor, according to DeWine. Previous orders were enforced by local health departments.

Berea and Bedford Heights police department said while there was mention of law enforcement during the governor’s news conference, they will not be enforcing the order until they receive further guidance or instruction. Both asked that residents not call police dispatch to report people for not wearing masks. They also said businesses can refuse customers who don’t wear a mask and officers will enforce trespassing violations.

Why only some counties?

Counties in Level 3 and Level 4 of the Ohio Public Health Advisory Alert System will be under a mask mandate. The color-coded system rates a county’s risk for COVID-19 using seven indicators.

If a county drops to Level 1 or Level 2, it will no longer be under the mandatory mask order.

Ohio Public Health Advisory Alert System indicators:

  • New cases per capita
  • Sustained increase in new cases
  • Proportion of cases that are not in congregate settings
  • Sustained increase in COVID-19-related emergency room visits
  • Sustained increase in COVID-19-related outpatient visits including telehealth
  • Sustained increase in COVID-19 hospital admissions
  • Intensive care unit occupancy.

Additional indicators to be added later: rate of new cases from contacts of known cases, tests per capita and percent positivity.

Levels of Public Health Advisory Alert System:

  • Level 1 (Yellow): County has triggered zero or one of the indicators. There is active exposure and spread.
  • Level 2 (Orange): County has triggered two or three indicators. There is increased risk of exposure and spread.
  • Level 3 (Red): County has triggered four or five indicators. There is very high exposure and spread.
  • Level 4 (Purple): County has triggered six or seven indicators. There is severe exposure and spread.

The alert system map will be updated every Thursday.

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