I-TEAM: Health officials concerned after officers, residents seen not wearing masks at Halloween event

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LAKE COUNTY, Ohio (WJW) — The I-TEAM has found health officials and law enforcement are now taking action after what FOX 8 captured on video at a Halloween party for kids.

Lake County safety forces put on the event due to COVID-19.

Many officers greeting kids and handing out candy did not wear a mask.

In fact, the event attracted big crowds last Sunday, and many adults with kids also did not wear masks or keep any distance with others.

Since then, an adult who’d gone there has tested positive for COVID-19, and the Lake County Health Department says that person may have been contagious while at the party.

“Certainly from a public health standpoint that’s very disappointing,” Lake County Health Commissioner Ron Graham said.

Graham told the I-TEAM he plans to have a talk with safety forces.

“We’ll meet with our colleagues, our partners. We’re in a leadership role, we’re highly visible and (need to) always take extra precautions when we can,” he said.

Last weekend at the party, the Eastlake Police Chief spoke out about wearing a mask and social distancing to keep safe.

Yet, so many there did so little to protect against COVID-19.

Friday, we went back to Eastlake Police since they hosted that event. For this story, the chief would not talk on camera. However, he pointed out, officers on duty don’t have to wear a mask. In fact, a health order from Ohio Governor Mike DeWine says, no mask is required for anyone actively involved in public safety.

Still, the Ohio Highway Patrol issued a statement to the I-TEAM about this event:

“The Patrol is committed to the health and wellness of the citizens we serve and our officers. To minimize the exposure and spread of COVID-19 it is a Patrol directive to wear masks when operationally feasible and/or when not able to maintain social distancing outdoors. The Patrol is aware of the event and reviewing the matter.”

Mentor Police said, “Masks were encouraged but not required at this event as it was held out outdoors.”

And Wickliffe Police said, “We encourage our officers to follow state guidelines and wear masks when appropriate. We also monitor officers‘ health conditions and conduct daily temperature checks of officers.”

The Lake County Sheriff did not respond to a request for comment.

“We’re really looking at this as a teachable moment,” said Health Commissioner Graham.

As of late Friday afternoon, no one else who’d been to that event had come forward with any COVID symptoms.

But, the health department is recommending anyone who’d gone to the party to stay alert for symptoms and see a doctor with any questions.

The health commissioner says you can’t let your guard down at a party to protect kids from the spread of COVID-19.

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