COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s mask mandate for Franklin County and six other counties is now in effect.

Franklin, Hamilton, Butler, Montgomery, Huron, Cuyahoga and Trumbull counties have all reached Level 3 on the state’s Public Health Advisory Alert System, which which means that they have triggered at least four or five of the following seven indicators:

  1. New cases per capita
  2. Sustained increase in new cases
  3. Proportion of cases that are not congregated cases
  4. Sustained increase in emergency room visits
  5. Sustained increase in outpatient visits
  6. Sustained increase in new COVID-19 hospital admissions
  7. Intensive care unit bed occupancy

As a result of the mandate, individuals over the age of 10-years-old are required to wear face coverings while in the following situations:

  • When they are in any indoor location that is not a residence
  • When they are outdoors and unable to consistently maintain a distance of six feet or more from individuals who are not members of their household
  • When they are waiting for, riding, driving, or operating public transportation, a taxi, a private care service, or a ride-sharing vehicle

The mask mandate goes into effect on the same day Ohio recorded 1,277 new COVID-19 cases, the third highest daily jump since the beginning of the pandemic. Franklin County recorded 292 new cases.

Doctors are hopeful that the public abides by the newly issued mask mandate.

“This is a challenging situation,” said Dr. Iahn Gonsenhauser, from The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. “It’s a scary situation. It’s one that we should all be taking very seriously, but instead of being panicked about it, we should turn that energy into caution and we should turn that caution into action on the things that we know can be successful.”

DeWine said the order will stay in place as long as counties are in a Level 3 or if they increase to the Purple Alert Level 4.

The Ohio Department of Health will update county rankings every Thursday. Any county that increases to Red Alert Level 3 will automatically be included in the face-covering mandate. Any county that decreases from Red Alert Level 3 to Orange Alert Level 2 will automatically be released from the face-covering requirement. 

Failure to wear a mask in Level 3 and Level 4 counties can result in a misdemeanor charge by law enforcement.

The order does not require a person to wear a mask if their doctor advises against it, if wearing a mask is prohibited by federal regulation, or if one is communicating with the hearing impaired, DeWine said.