Sorting out mask wearing in Ohio


Gov. Mike DeWine said masks are recommended

United Way masks

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – After Governor Mike DeWine laid out plans Monday to re-open Ohio’s economy, many were confused about his guidance on mask wearing. Is it mandatory or just a recommendation?

A first posting of the Ohio Department of Health’s COVID-19 Responsible Protocols For Getting Back To Work said that masks are required for workers and customers.

The guidelines read: No mask, no work, no service, no exceptions.

Later on Tuesday, the guidelines on the website were changed to say that masks are a recommendation, and the phrase no mask, no work, no service, no exceptions was taken down.

Another change was made late Tuesday night saying that masks are required for employees but recommended for clients and customers.

The guidance mentions five protocols for all business:

  1. Require face coverings for employees and recommend them for clients/customers at all times.
  2. Conduct daily health assessments by employers and employees (self-evaluation) to determine if “fit for duty.”
  3. Maintain good hygiene at all times – hand washing, sanitizing and social distancing.
  4. Clean and sanitize workplaces throughout workday and at the close of business or between shifts.
  5. Limit capacity to meet social distancing guidelines. Establish maximum capacity at 50% of fire code. And, use appointment setting where possible to limit congestion. 

The Centers for Disease Control recommends wearing masks, but hasn’t gone as far as to make them mandatory and suggests not wearing surgical masks to keep the supply going for health care workers.

The World Health Organization makes a distinction between medical masks and other types, saying there is no evidence that they are beneficial for healthy people in a non-medical setting

There is currently no evidence that wearing a mask (whether medical or other types) by healthy persons in the wider community setting, including universal community masking, can prevent them from infection with respiratory viruses, including COVID-19.

World Health Organization

However, the Centers or Disease Control says that mask wearing for the general public is a good idea when gathering in public spaces. The thinking is that while masks in this setting may not prevent healthy people from getting infected, it may lessen the amount of virus that is spread from a sick person.

CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

Centers for Disease Control

Research has shown that those infected with COVID-19 may be asymptomatic for a period of time and can spread the virus without being aware they are sick.

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