COLUMBUS, Ohio (WMCH) — Mask orders in Columbus and some Franklin County suburbs may be closer to ending.
The office of Mayor Andrew Ginther said Wednesday that city leaders from Columbus, Bexley, Whitehall, and Worthington met with Dr. Mysheika Roberts, the Columbus Public Health commissioner, and Joe Mazzola, Franklin County health commissioner, for an update on the spread of COVID-19. Each community has a public mask order in place.
According to a news release from Ginther, if transmission rates and hospitalizations continue their dramatic decline, mask orders could be lifted “in the coming weeks.”
“Our collective efforts to control the spread of the virus have worked, and we look forward to lifting mask requirements in the very near future,” Ginther said.
Columbus’ mask order was tied to CDC descriptions for community transmission, which still rates as high in Franklin County, and lifting the order had previously been tied to the rate dropping for four consecutive weeks.
People said if health leaders are comfortable lifting the mask mandate, then they are, too.
“I’m still having a problem remembering to put it on,” said Columbus resident Jeanne Purcell. “An that means I always have to go into a business and then come back out to my car, then go back into the business, so it’ll be good for me, it’ll be good for all of us. When we can stop worrying about a pandemic and use our resources for other things.”
“If the numbers are going down because you have the mask on, keep the mask on,” said resident Shaquile Ragin. “There’s no sense in taking your mask off just to bring the numbers up.”
If or when the time comes to end the mandate, it will have to be approved by Columbus City Council.
Roberts is scheduled to give a presentation to the Worthington City Council on March 7, at which time, the council will discuss steps for that city’s mask mandate.
Nationally, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Wednesday that the government is contemplating a change to its mask guidance in the coming weeks. Walensky noted recent declines in COVID-19 cases, hospital admissions, and deaths and acknowledged “people are so eager” for health officials to ease masking rules and other measures.
With the omicron variant waning and Americans eager to move beyond the virus, government and business leaders have been out ahead of the CDC in ending virus measures.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.