DELAWARE, Ohio (WCMH) — As of 6 p.m. Friday, masks are required in Delaware, Licking, and Union Counties. The orders are identical to those previously issued in Franklin, Fairfield and Pickaway Counties.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine issued the mandates after these counties were designated as being at ‘Red Level 3’ on the state’s Public Health Advisory System. According to DeWine, counties at Level 3 have very high exposure and very high spread of COVID-19.
In addition to a rising number of cases, DeWine said Delaware and Licking Counties are seeing a “surge” in the number of people seeing their doctors with COVID-19 symptoms.
According to Delaware General Health Commissioner Shelia Hiddleson, the district had 284 active COVID-19 cases as of Friday afternoon.
“I think it really doesn’t surprise me that we went to the red,” Hiddleson said.
The health commissioner also told NBC4 that she and her team do not intend to ticket anyone who does not comply with the mandate.
“I can share with you that as a combined health district, we do not have the ability to do fines or anything like that, so we will not be walking around being the mask police issuing fines,” she said. “Our goal always as a health district is to educate first and enforce second.”
Licking County Health Commissioner Chad Brown echoed that sentiment.
“A lot of folks think we can issue a fine,” he said. “We don’t have that authority to do so. What we’re going to continue to do is, if we get complaints, we’ll take those complaints and respond to every complaint that we got, and we’ll continue to provide a lot of education to folks about masks [and] why they’re important, why they should wear them.”
In addition to the mask mandates in Licking, Delaware, and Union Counties, one also took effect for Athens County on Friday.
Under the mandates, most everyone over the age of 10 is required to wear a face covering while indoors in public. Masks are also required for individuals who are outside and unable to practice social distancing.
Masks are not required when a doctor advises against it, when prohibited by federal regulation, or when one is communicating with an individual who is hearing impaired.