FCPH dispels family separation rumors


Fayette County Public Health (FCPH) recently clarified the difference between two pieces of information — the “Non-Congregate Sheltering Order” and the “Children in a Disaster Guidance.”

“It has been brought to our attention that there is an article circulating on social media regarding the phrase ‘sudden sleepovers of school age children,’” explained FCPH on social media. “This article incorrectly ties the Non-Congregate Sheltering Order by the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) ‘Children in a Disaster Guidance.’”

“They made it sound like we would keep their children at school and not allow them to have the children in a quarantine situation,” explained FCPH Deputy Health Commissioner Leigh Cannon.

Cannon further explained that the rumor had spread so far that Ohio Governor Mike DeWine addressed it during his press conference on Tuesday, during which he said, “I am aware there are rumors on the internet that incorrectly claim these orders allow children to be separated from their parents without permission. Let me just say, this is absolutely ridiculous. It is not true. There is no intention anyone has to separate children. Somehow, this has been reported on the internet. No truth to the rumors at all. Families will not be separated, children will not be taken away from their loved ones.”

“The Children in a Disaster Guidance” was created in 2002 as part of the CDC’s general emergency preparedness, according to FCPH. Part of that preparedness was to assist in educating parents and children on how to be prepared in a disaster that may separate them for an extended time.

“If there’s a tornado coming, or a bad snow storm coming, and we have fair warning, we’re going to get those kids home so we don’t have to shelter them at school,” said Cannon. “But if we can’t (get them home), then we have plans for that. If mother earth would drop 20 inches of snow on us right now, the kids aren’t getting out of the building, but they would have a safety plan in place to be able to manage those kids until it’s safe to leave.”

The Non-Congregate Sheltering Order, which was renewed on March 31 by the Ohio Department of Health, created a way to fund/allow federal reimbursement for created places to safely isolate or quarantine. According to FCPH, the order has been useful in a handful of cases in Ohio but has not been used on a large-scale basis.

“In the beginning — New York for example, they were putting nurses and doctors up in private hotel rooms so they wouldn’t be going home and possibly exposing their family,” explained Cannon. “This provided funding to be able to do that, so we could protect either the people at home or, if people didn’t have a place to go, then we could provide individual housing for them while they were under a quarantine or isolation order.”

If there is a problem and it is deemed necessary, according to Cannon, kids can be taken out of school but will be sent home where they can take part in virtual learning.

This quarantine process, according to FCPH, is used to reduce the spread of a virus and works best when there is collaboration and communication with affected persons.

Those with questions regarding reputable websites or information can contact FCPH at 740-335-5910 or visit ODH’s website at www.coronavirus.ohio.gov.

Reach journalist Jennifer Woods at 740-313-0355 or on Twitter @JennMWoods.


By Jennifer Woods

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