PREBLE COUNTY — Following new announcements regarding Ohio’s updated “Stay Safe at Home” order, and other plans to begin opening businesses in the state, Preble County Public Health issued additional information last week.
“Preble County citizens and Ohioans alike are anxiously, and somewhat tentatively, awaiting the reopening of the state after the Governor’s announcement of his ‘Responsible Restart Ohio’ plans this week,” the press release noted. “However, COVID-19 is still in Ohio communities. The plan is to reopen slowly to prevent sustained increases of COVID-19 cases. Governor DeWine communicated that reopening will consist of one or two openings followed by a 3-5 week watch period. If those openings do not cause a significant increase in cases, then the next set of openings will be carefully rolled-out.”
“A lot of what happens after May 1 will be based on continuous risk assessment,” said Health Commissioner Erik Balster. “Gradual and precise moves will be made followed by watch periods. This is how we will balance ‘normal life’ with the threat still at hand. We cannot pretend the threat is over. People in Ohio are still getting very sick and dying. We still need to act responsibly in our community.”
On May 1, outpatient healthcare procedures were able to resume, along with the opening of dental and veterinary offices. Manufacturing, distribution, construction, and general offices can open on May 4. Retail stores and services are permitted to reopen on May 12.
Ohio can expect practices like social distancing, mask wearing, and frequent hand washing to be around for a while. Businesses are asked to follow best practices and responsible protocols to keep employees and customers safe, including:
•Recommend face coverings for employees and clients/customers at all times.
•Conduct daily assessments to determine if employees are “fit for duty” by being symptom-free.
•Maintain good hygiene by washing hands frequently and practice social distancing.
•Clean and sanitize the workplace throughout the day and when the business closes for the day.
•Limit capacity to meet social distancing guidelines.
Continued closures include schools, dine-in restaurants, hair salons, movie theaters, playgrounds, and gyms. Gatherings of 10 or more people are still not allowed. Festivals and mass gatherings will be the last thing to be reinstated because they are the biggest threat to large spikes in COVID-19 cases.
Commissioner Balster cautions people on doing too much too quickly. “Staying at home and quarantining has been really tough economically, socially, and mentally. But we need to go slow. Wear face coverings and practice social distancing when you can, especially with those who are high-risk,” Balster said.
PCPH encourages residents to monitor preblecountyhealth.org/coronavirus for the latest information on the Governor’s order for reopening Ohio and to find the latest on COVID-19 in Preble County.
The full “Stay Safe Ohio Order” is available on Ohio’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) website.
This order will be effective at 11:59 p.m. on April 30, and remains in full force and effect until 11:59 p.m. on May 29, unless the director of the Ohio Department of Health rescinds or modifies this order at a sooner time and date.
•Stay at home or place of residence is still in place. Exceptions to this include the activities, businesses, and operations as permitted in the order.
•Any gathering of 10 or more continues to be prohibited unless exempted by the order.
•Facial coverings (masks) — Businesses must allow all customers, patrons, visitors, contractors, vendors and similar individuals to use facial coverings except for specifically documented legal, life, health or safety considerations and limited documented safety considerations.
•Businesses must require all employees to wear facial coverings, but there are exceptions listed in the order.
•Medical providers, including dentists and veterinarians could resume non-essential procedures effective April 30, at 11:59 p.m.
•Manufacturing, distribution, and construction business as well as general office environments could reopen May 4, at 12:01 a.m.
•Retail establishments and facilities may reopen May 12, at 12:01 a.m.
The following businesses are to remain closed until the order is amended or rescinded: schools (with the exception of staff involved in meals, distance learning, etc.,) restaurants and bars, personal appearance and beauty, adult day support and congregate living; senior centers; daycare services; entertainment/recreation/gymnasiums.
Governor DeWine announced last week the members of two separate advisory groups for recommendations and best practices when reopening dine-in restaurants, and personal service locations throughout the state.
Members of the two advisory groups were identified by relevant business association, along with Ohio Speaker of the House Larry Householder, Senate President Larry Obhof, House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes, and Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko.
The restaurant advisory group will develop and recommend best practices for reopening dine-in restaurants throughout the state and balance the need to protect the health of employees and customers. The personal services advisory group will also develop and recommend best practices for reopening hair salons, day spas, nail salons, barber shops, massage therapy locations, and tanning facilities throughout the state.
As of Sunday, May 3, there were 19,914 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and 1,038 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. A total of 3,769 people have been hospitalized, including 1,078 admissions to intensive care units. In-depth data can be accessed by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov.
As of Friday, May 1, Preble County Public Health reported a total of 28 confirmed and probably cases of COVID-19, and said 25 cases had recovered. There have been five COVID-19-related hospitalizations and one confirmed COVID-19-related death.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH.