TRUMBULL CO., Ohio (WKBN) – Governor Mike DeWine continues to urge Ohioans to help stop the spread of COVID-19. On Tuesday, he made a big announcement that will affect the seven red counties across the state, one of which is Trumbull County.
If you don’t have a mask yet, you’ll want to get one by 6 p.m. Wednesday, when Gov. DeWine’s mask mandate begins.
“We’re seeing a serious situation, we have to take action,” Gov. DeWine said during his coronavirus briefing on Tuesday.
Everyone within red counties — where there’s a high risk of virus exposure and spread — will be required to wear a mask when in public.
“In these red counties, people will need to wear a mask in the following circumstances: when they’re in any indoor location that is not a residence; when they are outdoors and unable to consistently maintain a distance of six feet or more from individuals who are not members of their household; or while they are waiting for or riding, driving or operating public transportation, taxi, private care service, car service or a ride-sharing vehicle,” Gov. DeWine said.
Gov. DeWine made it clear that this order does not apply to children under the age of 10 or for anyone who cannot safely wear one.
He also said it does not supersede any school order — schools should still follow the guidelines released last week.
The governor said the order will stay in place as long as the county is at the red level.
“These orders really go hand-in-hand with what experts have been telling us,” Gov. DeWine said.
Trumbull County Commissioner Dan Polivka said county officials started hearing about the new requirements even before the governor announced them publicly.
Polivka said that despite local efforts the contain the virus, “hot spots” continued to emerge within the county.
“The report from the hospitals was pretty good yesterday but there was some outbreaks at the state penitentiary and a couple nursing homes and whatnot. So we’re just hoping to get this down. We’ve been doing a good fight against it, our EOC and everyone working together,” Polivka said.
For retail hotspots like the Eastwood Mall, it might be a change for some customers, but they will be putting up signs as a reminder of the mask requirement.
“It’s not up to the business owners to try to police it, but they can certainly remind the customers to do that,” said Eastwood Mall spokesperson Joe Bell.
Polivka hopes the new restrictions will only last a week or so, and then the county will come out of the red designation.
So, who does police the mandate and what is the penalty for not wearing a mask? The governor said it’s a misdemeanor and will be handled by the state, but their goal is not to punish, but rather, to keep the virus from spreading.
“The law is a teacher. The law can help determine the norms of society, and that’s what we’re hoping this does in those seven counties,” Gov. DeWine said.