I-TEAM: Getting action after local health department mishandled COVID-19 complaints

I-Team

CLEVELAND (WJW) — The FOX 8 I-TEAM is now getting action after finding the Cleveland Health Department mishandled more complaints from citizens with concerns about COVID-19.

Hundreds of people have been calling to report places not following social distancing, dangerous working conditions, sick workers, and more. But the I-TEAM has discovered many complaints simply get dropped.

Over the last month, for more than two dozen complaints, the city did nothing more than leave a voicemail or send an e-mail, that’s it.

Weeks ago, we first exposed the Cleveland Health Department mishandling COVID-19 calls. The city even referred a blind woman to a website for her question.

*Read more stories on the coronavirus pandemic, here.*

Yet now, there’s more. The I-TEAM found some of the latest complaints involved local government buildings. But, time after time, the records show the city health department ended up leaving voicemails for other government agencies, too.

We also learned during that time that the health department couldn’t even get in touch with other city workers.

We asked Mayor Frank Jackson how leaving a message could be considered an investigation? He said the city is fixing the problem.

“As we receive complaints, there will be follow-ups to that complaint. There will be a better investigative process for us, retooling, recognizing there was a problem,” he said.

The mayor says the health department will work more closely with police and state agencies, go out to investigate more complaints, and take more action where people violate health codes and laws.

We shared our findings with Therese Pohorence, a west side homeowner and City Hall watchdog. She said she’s counting on more from the city.

“The City of Cleveland is so weak as far as responding to the people, to the citizens. It’s like we don’t matter,” she said.

In our review of the health department records, we did not see any enforcement action taken in recent weeks. However, just days ago, they sent complaint letters to four bars.

*See our latest investigative stories, here.*

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