Fayette County Public Health (FCPH) received several complaints this week concerning individuals failing to practice “social distancing” at local businesses and at public parks and playgrounds.
Earlier this week, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s administration enacted a stay-at-home order as COVID-19 cases continue to spike. He said the order includes things he’s already been asking residents to do, such as staying at home except for essential needs. It also includes a list of businesses that are classified as essential and allowed to stay open, he said.
FCPH Deputy Health Commissioner Leigh Cannon said there’s been some confusion locally about social distancing and what that entails.
“For every business considered ‘essential,’ the establishment still must follow the social distancing order for all of their employees,” Cannon said Friday. “We have received numerous complaints on businesses this week that we do agree are ‘essential’ per the Ohio Department of Health order, however, are not following the social distancing order properly.”
The full order can be found at coronavirus.ohio.gov under the tab “Stay At Home Order.”
For the general public, Cannon said, social distancing means that you and your household members should stay home as much as possible.
“If you are out taking a walk, going for a run or just getting some fresh air, you still need to maintain those social distancing practices,” she said. “It does not mean having 10 of your school friends over for a sleepover, playing sports outside with all of the neighbor kids, meeting for workouts at one person’s home or having parties.”
In response to the various concerns and violations being reported, the topics of city parks, basketball courts and playground equipment were brought up during this week’s Washington Court House City Council meeting.
When asked about those topics, City Manager Joe Denen explained by email that the “city basketball courts are located at Eyman Park and Chrisman Park. To resolve the issue of basketball and compliance with the prohibition on playground equipment, I asked the Street Department to remove the basketball rims.”
“I spoke earlier in the week about the temptation of playground equipment. Parents speaking with their kids about the importance of social distancing and specifically playground equipment would be helpful,” he wrote. “Periodically, I have to remind our 10 year old daughter that maintaining physical distance is important.”
According to Denen, he recently asked a group of kids that appeared to be in their middle teens to spread out as they were “clumped together” in Eyman Park.
“I introduced myself, I asked for their help, and I briefly explained why I needed them to spread out,” he explained. “Several kids made positive verbal responses, one young person expressed himself in a different verbal manner and one of his friends scolded him with equally colorful language. The young people then proceeded about their business in a reasonable way. We have to stand together, just six feet apart.”
Cannon added that she knows this a stressful time for everyone.
“We understand that being cooped up in your house can cause anxiety, but you have to understand that there is a reason the Governor and Dr. Amy Acton (director of the Ohio Department of Health) are asking us to do this,” she said. “We are flattening the curve and it is buying us time to protect our healthcare workers, our frontline workers and you, our community. We are all in this together. We truly want everyone to take these orders seriously to protect your health and the health of those around you.”
Business non-compliance violations can be reported to FCPH at 740-333-3590, Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reach Ryan Carter at 740-313-0352.
Jennifer Woods contributed to this article.