Governor Announces Public Health Advisory Alert System
Governor DeWine announced today that going forward, Ohio will maintain vital, necessary baseline orders to control the spread of COVID-19 while also implementing a new alert system. The Ohio Public Health Advisory System will provide local health departments and community leaders data and information to combat flare-ups as they occur in different parts of the state. The system consists of four levels that provide Ohioans with guidance as to the severity of the problem in the counties in which they live.
A county’s alert level is determined by seven data indicators:
- New Cases Per Capita
- Sustained Increase in New Cases
- Proportion of Cases that Are Not Congregate Cases
- Sustained Increase in Emergency Room Visits
- Sustained Increase in Outpatient Visits
- Sustained Increase in New COVID-19 Hospital Admissions
- Intensive Care Unit (ICU) Bed Occupancy
Click here for a summary of health advisory alert indicators. Additional measurements still in development include county-level data on contact tracing, tests per capita, and percent positivity.
The four levels of the Ohio Public Advisory Alert System are:
- Alert Level 1 Public Emergency (Yellow): Baseline level. County has met zero or one indicator. Active exposure and spread. Follow all health orders.
- Alert Level 2 Public Emergency (Orange): County has met two or three indicators. Increased exposure and spread. Exercise high degree of caution. Follow all current health orders.
- Alert Level 3 Public Emergency (Red): County has met four or five indicators. Very high exposure and spread. Limit Activities as much as possible. Follow all current health orders.
- Alert Level 4 Public Emergency (Purple): County has met six or seven indicators. Severe exposure and spread. Only leave home for supplies and services. Follow all current health orders.
Each alert level includes specific risk level guidelines, including the requirement that all citizens comply with all health orders.
Cities Rush to Pass Face Covering Orders and Ordinances
In the wake of the significant uptick in positive COVID-19 cases throughout the state, several cities have acted to require individuals to wear face coverings while inside public-facing businesses.
Yesterday, the Mayor of Dayton signed an ordinance requiring all individuals within the city limits to wear a face covering when entering, exiting, or waiting in line to enter a place of business that is open to the public, and while in the public space inside of the business. There are exceptions for the following:
- An individual who cannot wear a face covering due to a medical condition, a mental health condition or a developmental disability, or who cannot remove the face covering without assistance or who is exempted under CDC guidance. No documentation of the qualification for exemption is required.
- A child under six years of age.
- A person seated in a restaurant or bar eating or drinking. Anyone who is not seated while inside these establishments must wear a face covering.
- School and school district employees serving K-12 or post-secondary institutions.
- In settings where it is not practical or feasible such as receiving dental services or while swimming.
- While walking or exercising outdoors.
- While actively engaged in exercise inside a gym or other such facility, but a face covering is required while in such a facility but not exercising.
- When an individual is at work inside an office, conference room or other area not intended for use by the public.
- When inside a personal or work vehicle moving or parked unless the vehicle is being used for public transportation or for commercial purposes such as ride sharing.
The ordinance does not include a requirement that businesses enforce its provisions but does impose an $85 penalty on anyone violating the ordinance. It becomes effective July 3 at 8:00 am and will remain in effect for the duration of the Governor’s declared state of emergency. We worked closely with Mayor Whaley’s office to ensure that there was no duty to enforce imposed upon businesses.
Today, the Mayor of Columbus signed an executive order requiring face coverings to be worn by all individuals in indoor areas accessible to the public and while using private or public transportation regulated by the city of Columbus. This includes employees and customers.
The major difference between the Dayton ordinance and the Columbus Mayor’s order is that the latter imposes an enforcement duty upon businesses, and they may be subject to a citation for failing to enforce the order. There is no mention of a specific penalty associated with a citation.
The exemptions to the order are very similar to those of Dayton but with a few differences such as when speaking with a hearing-impaired person or giving a speech for broadcast or to an audience. The ordinance indicates that an individual’s assertion of qualification for one of the listed exemptions is sufficient to allow that person entry without a face covering. Please review the exceptions included in the order.
The order goes into effect at 12:01 am, Friday, July 3 and remains in effect until it is superseded by ordinance of Columbus City Council. Council is expected to pass such an ordinance–likely to be passed as an emergency measure–during their weekly meeting on Monday, July 6. We are in communication with various city officials in an attempt to steer them in the direction of the Dayton ordinance as opposed to the Mayor’s order.
In this brief period of time between the Mayor’s order and action by City Council, it is very important that Columbus businesses ensure that they are communicating the enforcement duty to their employees and ensuring that they are reminding everyone not wearing a face covering of the requirement to do so, while thanking those who are. Conspicuous signage of the face covering requirement at the entrance is highly recommended. If you are able to offer a face covering to anyone not wearing one, all the better.
We are also aware that the cities of Akron and Cincinnati are working on face covering ordinances and we have reached out to them as well in the hope of avoiding any additional enforcement provisions on businesses. At the pace that these ordinances are popping up, it is going to be difficult to monitor them all. If you hear of any other local government entity in Ohio proposing such an ordinance, please contact us immediately. Those who have relationships with their locally elected officials should make personal contact when these proposals arise and inform them of the risks involved when businesses are required to enforce the laws they pass in such a charged environment.
If you have any questions regarding the Governor’s Public Health Advisory Alert System or the face covering actions, please feel free to e-mail Lora Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org or Alex Boehnke at email@example.com, or call us at 614-221-7833.