Mahoning Public Health Sees Rise in Calls as Businesses Reopen

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The Mahoning County Public Health Department is receiving a steady stream of calls from businesses and restaurant owners preparing to reopen after the month-and-a-half shutdown because of the coronavirus, says health commissioner Ryan Tekac.

Gov. Mike DeWine announced that outdoor dining can reopen this Friday and indoor dining will resume May 21. Today is the first day retail outlets that were not initially deemed essential businesses could open, following manufacturers, distributors, construction companies and offices over the past two weeks.

“We’ll continue to work together to ensure that bars and restaurants are in substantial compliance with the guidance documents presented last week,” Tekac said. “We in the community must also keep in our minds that the virus is still with us. The processes and measures put into place were thought out with safety in mind due to the virus still being present.”

Tekac is asking businesses to continue with social distancing, staying home when not well, hand washing hygiene and wearing face coverings when out in public. 

“Our business owners and our community members must keep in mind and take ownership of the safety measures being asked in order to continue slowing the spread of the virus,” Tekac said.

The reopening of bars and restaurants comes with limits, including parties limited to 10 or fewer and spacing between tables, either by a barrier or six feet of space. Gatherings such as dances won’t be allowed in bars and restaurants’ open areas, with that space allowed to be used for extra distance between tables and customers.

DeWine has ordered that for reopenings of retail and outdoor dining that face coverings are mandatory for most workers and businesses with some exceptions having to do with worker safety. It’s also up to individual businesses owners to decide whether customers must wear the masks inside their business or not. 

Tekac and Youngstown city health commissioner Erin Bishop said both departments continue working with area senior care centers on stopping the spread of the virus, which has a disproportionate effect on senior care centers, mostly occupied by those most susceptible to contracting COVID-19: older residents and those with underlying health conditions.

As of May 11, Mahoning County Public Health reports 1,141 confirmed cases, with 262 hospitalizations. Of the 124 deaths, 68% have occurred among residents of long-term care facilities. 

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