Mahoning Health Advisory Asks Residents to ‘Mask Up’

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Mahoning County joins six other metropolitan counties representing more than 5 million Ohioans in issuing a health advisory ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.

At their board meeting Tuesday morning, Mahoning County Commissioners approved a COVID-19 health advisory, encouraging residents to participate in the “Mask Up Mahoning” campaign and wear masks when entering public places, businesses and other environments where social distancing can’t be maintained.

Other guidance in the advisory includes staying at home when possible and limiting travel out-of-state travel; only leaving home for work, school or essential needs such as medical care, going to the grocery store or pharmacy, picking up food or receiving deliveries.

It also recommends residents limit gatherings to those residing in their homes and foregoing having guests in their homes during the holidays. 

Mahoning County Commissioner David Ditzler reported a series of concerning statistics from the resolution that was approved. Average daily cases in Mahoning County have increased to 171 the week of Nov. 15 from 77.5 the week of Nov. 1. The single day high over a 14-day period surged to 236 on Nov. 19 from 72 cases on Nov. 5.

“It’s a terrible trend that we’re on,” Ditzler said. Local health-care providers are “slowly reaching capacity,” he warned. 

“The hospitals are becoming overrun,” Commissioner Anthony Traficanti affirmed. When that happens, beds might not be available for patients with needs not related to the coronavirus.   

No one wants to go without seeing the rest of his or her families, Commissioner Carol Rimedio-Righetti said. She urged county residents to limit their celebrations to their immediate households and connect with other family members and friends via virtual conferencing platforms such as Zoom.  

Though encouraged by the numbers of people they do see complying with mask protocols, both Ditzler and Traficanti recalled instances in which they encountered resistance. 

At a “packed” grocery store recently, Ditzler encountered an elderly woman who said she had a condition that prevented her from wearing one. When he pointed out that she also could have her groceries delivered, she told the commissioner to mind his “own damn business.” 

Traficanti described an encounter he had witnessed at another local grocery store between store employees and a young woman. 

“It got pretty heated,” he said. “She just would not put a mask on.” 

Mahoning joined six other metropolitan counties collectively representing more than 5 million Ohioans — Franklin, Cuyahoga, Hamilton, Summit, Montgomery and Lucan – that have passed similar resolutions.

“Cases and hospital admissions are at the highest level we have seen during this pandemic, by far. These county health advisories reflect the urgent need for all of us to protect ourselves and our families to stop the spread of this virus,” Hamilton County Board of Commissioners President Denise Driehaus said in a news release.  

“We’re in a fight to save lives here. This week kicks off a season of celebration, but each of us needs to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to protect our loved ones and community,” Franklin County Board of Commissioners President John O’Grady said in the release. “The guidance is clear – wear a mask, keep your distance, don’t travel, and we’ll all get through this together.”  

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.