Coronavirus: Logan County planning for reopen, critical of DeWine’s approach

BELLEFONTAINE — The Logan County Health District expects to be at odds with Gov. DeWine and his plan to gradually lift restrictions triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

DeWine has said he plans to announce the state’s plan Monday, April 27, in anticipation of his relaxing restrictions beginning May 1.

“We’re not going to prosecute his orders that to us seem ridiculous when people have given us beautiful guidance on how they are going to keep the public safe and how they’re going to keep their employees safe," Logan County Health District Commissioner Boyd Hoddinott, M.D., told News Center 7′s Sean Cudahy in an exclusive interview.

Logan County perhaps is the first county public health district in Ohio to issue guidelines to people who want to reopen their businesses in anticipation of DeWine lifting restrictions. Two weeks ago, Hoddinott issued a set of proposed guidelines to all businesses in the county called “Economic Recovery Instructions to Reopen and Operate a Business."

Hoddinott said the aim was to give businesses guidance “in the spirit of getting the economy going. Nobody will use [the one-page memo] exactly as it is written, he said, but businesses will use it as a template.

He is not happy about how DeWine has approached the lifting of restrictions.

“It sounds like they’re going to put the state in one basket,” he said. “That’s not what the federal guidelines were. That’s not about home rule. We are not Cincinnati! We are not Columbus! They have to understand that. We are responsible people who are trained in this and we’ve thought long and hard about this. We think we can handle this.”

The commissioner said he believes most of the businesses in downtown Bellefontaine will be just fine. But in Indian Lake, where people come from Dayton and Lima and elsewhere to visit, “that’s a little harder to control.”

Tim Smith, director of environmental health for Logan County, echoed Hoddinott’s viewpoints. No business wants to open up and then have to take two steps backward, he said.

“There are going to be changes and concessions that have to be made," Smith said.

Smith and Hoddinott said the county’s one-page memo does not issue requirements, but lays out guidance about masks, public distancing, hand washing and establishing occupancy limits.

“It gives them the best way they can go about this,” the health commissioner said. "We’re not saying it’s approved and you have to do this. But if we get complaints or we find out it’s not working, we can close them. We are prepared to test and to close, just like the meatpacking places.”

The world is a different place because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hoddinott said, noting the world has gone back 60 or 70 years “when I was quarantined because my brother had polio.”

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