MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Ohio (WDTN) — Local health leaders say the Dayton-area is in the midst of a fourth surge of COVID-19 cases.
“We’re seeing this significant surge now with the availability of vaccination and that’s concerning from a public health standpoint,” said Jeff Cooper, Health Commissioner of Public Health – Dayton & Montgomery County.
Despite the surge and concern from health leaders, Senate Bill 22 is limiting public health departments across Ohio from implementing mandates or other guidance for COVID-19
“Quite frankly, we no longer have the authority to impose a mask mandate or set other prohibitions in place to control the spread of this virus,” Cooper said.
For the time being, Public Health – Dayton & Montgomery County (PHDMC) has an advisory in place that encourages mask wearing indoors, and they’ve also released an advisory encouraging businesses to require vaccine mandates.
But during a press conference on Thursday, Cooper offered a stronger call-to-action for local jurisdictions.
“Public Health is encouraging all the political jurisdictions within Montgomery County to consider executive orders and/or legislative action to require public indoor masking in all community settings within their jurisdiction,” Cooper said. “Including work places, grocery stores, restaurants and other venues.”
A representative for the City of Dayton said the city is planning to follow the recommendations made by PHDMC, but they are still working on details.
Cooper said this mask mandate in addition to increasing the rate of vaccinations across the county can protect the people and children who live in the area and are vulnerable.
Montgomery County ranks fourth in the state for the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths. The county is also ranked second for the number of hospitalizations in the state.
Almost 400 people in the Montgomery County region are in the hospital, more than 300 of those people are unvaccinated. Local health leaders also say they are seeing more people in the hospital between the ages of 18 and 50. And the Chief Medical Officer of Dayton Children’s Hospital reports more than a dozen children hospitalized for COVID-19, something not previously seen in the pandemic.
Cooper said people who are worried by these trends should contact their local legislator to express concern about Senate Bill 22.
“… especially ones that voted for this [bill] and express that that was the wrong thing to do, and it’s placed us in a situation which is why we’re here today,” Cooper said.
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