Herald Staff Writer
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced July 9 that Summit and four other counties had joined the previous seven in Level 3, or Red, status, making masks mandatory if people are going out.
The order was to be effective at 6 p.m. July 10 and applies to all indoor spaces and outdoor spaces where it is not possible to maintain a 6-foot distance from another person. As always, certain health or developmental issues are excluded.
The order renders moot the speculation among local officials whether to order it in their jurisdictions. After Akron City Council drafted legislation to make masks madatory, following the lead of Dayton and Cleveland, The Herald reached out to the Barberton and Norton city council presidents.
“As far as I know it is not under discussion,” Norton council President Joseph Kernan said. “I would just encourage individuals to follow safety guidelines as set out by the governor’s office and the Summit County health district.”
He added that if a colleague introduced mandatory mask legislation for Norton, he probably wouldn’t support it.
Barberton council President Craig Megyes said he would support such legislation but that the Magic City’s council hadn’t drafted any at the time.
“Oh, yeah!” Megyes said. “We’re about ready to get hit with another wave.”
Megyes said Barberton council had been watching what other cities were doing, particularly neighboring Akron, before making a move. The virus, instead, prompted the governor to take the decision away from them.
The state of Ohio compiled a series of seven indicators of a county’s health with regard to the virus. A county moves to Level 3 if it meets four or five of them. Summit County Public Health released a letter saying which indicators Summit triggered. They were: More than 50 new cases per 100,000 residents within the last two weeks; a sustained trend of overall cases over at least five days; more than 50 percent of the new cases are not in congregate settings, like a prison or a nursing home; new outpatient visits for coronavirus have increased over at least five days.
Other than making masks mandatory instead of encouraged, no advice has changed. Health officials ask residents to check their temperature daily and stay home if they have any symptoms, stay at least 6 feet away from people who don’t live with you, don’t go out if you don’t have to, cough and sneeze in your sleeve, don’t gather in groups, don’t touch your face and wash and/or sanitize your hands frequently.