SANDUSKY, Ohio (WJW) – Fox 8’s I-Team has found several health officials across Ohio having a difficult time getting some who either tested positive for COVID-19 or had close contact with a person infected to follow quarantine and isolation orders.
Health officials say they are concerned that those violating the orders could be helping to spread COVID-19.
“There are some that tell us they think the virus is a hoax and they just won’t follow the orders,” said Deb Hattery-Roberts, nursing services director for the Allen County Public Health Department, in western Ohio.
Erie County Health Director Pete Schade reports his workers are having similar issues.
“There are some that won’t pick up the phone,” Schade said. “Or if they do pick up the phone, they swear at us and won’t listen.”
This week, Erie County officials started listing on their news releases the number of people that are not following orders to quarantine or isolate.
“On Monday, we had 14; on Tuesday, we had 18; and on Wednesday, we got three more, so we have 21,” Schade told the Fox 8 I-Team.
He stressed that COVID-19 is a communicable disease, and so if you tested positive, you need to stay home, even if you are not having symptoms.
In the past few weeks, Erie County has gone from a Level 1 to a Level 3 on the state’s COVID-19 map. A level 3 indicates very high exposure and spread.
Cuyahoga County is also at Level 3. Health officials in Cuyahoga County pursued criminal charges against one woman who tested positive for COVID-19 and allegedly violated health orders to stay in isolation. Euclid police filed charges against the woman a few weeks ago.
Several health officials say they don’t want to resort to filing criminal charges or order people to be placed on GPS monitoring systems.
“My staff has and will continue to help those that need groceries, but we just really need those who have to stay home, to stay home,” Schade said.
Allen County Health officials estimate that up to 20% of persons initially contacted regarding their COVID-19 status are not cooperating with instructions provided by contact tracers.
“We attribute this to be one of the major contributing factors to our increase in confirmed cases,” Hattery-Roberts said. “In July, we had 305 new cases, which accounted for 49% of the total number of cases we have seen since the beginning of the pandemic. We had individuals tells us that it infringes on their civil rights if we tell them to stay home or isolate. There are others that are afraid that there is a stigma that is associated with being diagnosed. “
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