One Lakewood Progress: Breaking Down The New Stay Safe Ohio Order From The Ohio Department Of Health

Most circumstances by which public policy is developed are not glamorous or ideal. And this is certainly a challenging time in America. Regardless of how we feel about the development of a given policy, they are essential: Much of public policy is written to solve problems and provide a guide to the steps and actions needed to secure a desired outcome. 

In Ohio’s case, that outcome is to save the lives: Something that I am asking folks to remember as they slowly start to venture out to stores and work.

In fact, most public policy takes on a form not that much unlike Ohio’s new Stay Safe Ohio policy, which expires on May 29th and supersedes the order that expired on April 30th. The 14 page document lacks flash, but more than makes up for that in the delicate balance it endeavors to strike between protecting the lives of Ohioans, trying to stabilize a fragile economy, and incorporating the anguished cries of Ohioans who have been separated from loved ones and the clash of public opinion about personal freedom and what that means in light of, or in spite of, Coronavirus. 

So what does the new Stay Safe Ohio order say? The new order amends the original policy to extend some stay-home protocols (namely social distancing and limiting gatherings to ten people or less) while lifting restrictions on consumer interactions with businesses. 

What’s Open?

Effective May 1, healthcare facilities started conducting non-essential medical procedures. Dentists and Veterinarians reopened their practices. People started to seek out and get these procedures scheduled and performed. Retail businesses who can offer curbside pick up, appointment only interaction, and are able to limit customers to 10 people or less at at time were also allowed to reopen on this date.

On May 4th, people who work in general office environments returned to work. This policy does not mandate that employees need to work from home. Face masks are required to be worn at all times by employees going into offices. Employees are also required to conduct a daily health self-assessment to certify fitness to work. Manufacturing and construction businesses also reopened on this date.

Effective May 12, retail locations can re-open and must comply with the same policy for requiring face masks and daily health self-assessments for their employees. Though the State of Ohio does not require masks to be worn by customers, businesses can elect to require them. At this writing, Costco, Meijer, and Menards are requiring customers to wear face coverings or masks when patronizing their stores. 

What’s Closed?

Schools, salons and barbershops, restaurants, adult and older adult day care, vocational rehabilitation services, senior centers, childcare services, entertainment, recreation and gyms still remain closed with no target for an opening date at this writing.

What does that mean for Lakewoodites?

The gradual lifting of these restrictions means that many Lakewoodites working from home will start to make their way into offices where they will need to wear a face mask and monitor their symptoms and temperature daily. 

It also means that though folks can gather in groups of 10 people or less, or go shopping at boutiques or gift shops, it is still highly recommended that you maintain a 6 foot distance from others and take common-sense precautions, like wearing a mask or face covering when out in public areas, washing your hands and limiting close bodily contact with others. 

A Word to the Wise from a Public Health Professional

Last week, face coverings were initially required by Governor DeWine for all consumers who go into retail establishments. However, public outcry eventually reversed that decision. Barring those who have a medical reason for not wearing a mask when out shopping, all other folks need to consider some important points about why they were being required in the first place.

The extent of asymptomatic spread of Coronavirus is largely unknown. However, the picture that is emerging from what testing has been completed is that there is a large percentage of people who have or have had the virus without showing any significant symptoms. This is problematic because it then becomes difficult to manage or stop the spread.

Because so many people infected with Coronavirus have had no symptoms, the disease spreads largely undetected which also prevents it from being traced. Contact tracing is important for managing the spread and eventually eliminating the virus.

Masks are an inconvenience for many. And though masks won't necessarily prevent you from getting Coronavirus, it will prevent you, a potential silent carrier, from passing it on to someone else. The use of these masks is made even more effective if everyone uses them. So, please consider the health of others and wear a mask when going to public places, if possible. Practice good hygiene, wash your hands frequently, and be mindful of how you feel. Stay home if you are sick and update others on how you feel before interacting with them. 

Be mindful, be courteous, be neighborly, be safe.

Volume 16, Issue 10, Posted 1:11 PM, 05.06.2020