I-Team: Why are there so many unfilled Cleveland Department of Health jobs during a pandemic?

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CLEVELAND (WJW) — The FOX 8 I-Team has found the Cleveland Department of Health missing key workers during the heart of the fight against COVID-19. So we’re investigating what’s not getting done to protect you.

For weeks, we’ve heard tough talk from Cleveland City Hall promising a health department crackdown on bars, restaurants, and your neighbors ignoring orders for masks and more to help stop COVID-19.

But now, the I-Team has uncovered dozens of empty positions in the Cleveland Department of Health. Records show job openings for inspectors, nurses, epidemiologists and others.

Some of the positions have been open for weeks. Others for months. We also noticed one position has been open for two years and another has been open for three years.

This comes as the City has not responded to I-Team requests filed in recent weeks for citations and warning letters related to health orders and COVID-19.

City Hall made a splash creating new rules and penalties tied to wearing a mask. The city even set up a hotline for you to report businesses not following orders. So, you can see why we’re asking how many citations have been issued, and, what about that short-staffing in the Health Department?

We went to the department’s offices downtown.

We found the doors locked and a security guard telling us he couldn’t get in touch with anyone working in those offices.

The I-Team then made some calls, and we spoke on the phone to the health director. Yet, she wouldn’t answer questions, or come outside. Instead, she referred us to the mayor’s office.

A spokesperson told us she’d get back to us about what we’re investigating. But, the mayor’s office told us no city official would be doing any interviews.

No one is answering questions about how the health department is enforcing orders surrounding COVID-19, especially without workers in some important positions. The I-Team will keep pressing to reveal more.

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