COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – February has seen a sharp drop in COVID-19 cases nationwide, as well as an increasing number of liberal states easing their mask mandates.
Democratically-controlled Delaware, Nevada, New York and Rhode Island are among states that have repealed all or some state-wide mask rules in the past two weeks, and governors of California, Illinois and elsewhere plan to follow by the end of the month.
Ohio, a conservative-oriented state with Republicans in control of the governorship and the legislature, has not had a mask mandate since last summer. But blue Columbus has been demanding masks in public spaces for more than five months in a row.
What’s going to happen in Columbus?
City leaders have referred to Columbus Public Health (CPH) for guidance on the mandate. The department recommendations are linked to data tracked by the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at its color-coded card of American counties.
Red is the highest level, then orange, yellow and blue.
“While the numbers are moving in the right direction, we are still in the CDC’s red category for high social transmission for our case rate and the orange category for significant social transmission for our positivity rate,” CPH spokeswoman Kelli Newman told NBC4 in a statement Monday.
CPH’s recommendation is that Franklin County move into the yellow category on these measurements – case frequency over the last seven days and test positivity rate over the last seven days – for four consecutive weeks. So even though the county reached its goal tomorrow, it should still be there for a month.
“To move to the yellow level, Franklin County needs to come down to one positivity of 5 to 7.99% and has one case percentage of 10-49 per. 100,000said Newman.
As of Monday, the CDC map shows Franklin County with one Test positivity of 9.46% and one case percentage of 171.79 per. 100,000 people. And although these rates are on a downward trend, they have not been long enough.
“Things are getting better,” Newman said, “but we are not there yet.”
What’s in Columbus’ mask mandate?
Columbus’ mask mandate requires that any resident over the age of 3 – regardless of vaccination status – wear a face shield in indoor public spaces. The executive order follows the original one, which was adopted in July 2020, but it added a regular 30-day check-in window where CPH could report changes in COVID-19 to the city council.
People who do not comply will first be given a warning, then fined $ 100 by CPH for another violation and $ 250 for each subsequent violation. Companies that do not comply with the requirements will also be warned at the first offense, but will be fined $ 500 for a second violation and then $ 1,000 for each violation thereafter.
The mandate is in place until the city council repeals it, or Mayor Andrew Ginther repeals the city’s current emergency proclamation.
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