Health department inundated with calls about DeWine’s plans


By Kyle Shaner - kshaner@sidneydailynews.com



SIDNEY – After Gov. Mike DeWine announced his plans Thursday to reopen more of Ohio’s economy, the staff at the Sidney-Shelby County Health Department was flooded with calls about how to navigate the evolving situation.

Kent Topp, the director of environmental health for the Sidney-Shelby County Health Department, said the department’s staff spent about 90 percent of its time Friday answering questions from businesses, schools and individuals about how DeWine’s Responsible Restart Ohio plan would affect them.

“It’s been busy this afternoon,” Topp said. “We’ve had call after call after call about the coronavirus.”

During his daily press conference Thursday afternoon, DeWine announced Ohio’s personal services such as barbershops, hair salons, day spas and nail salons could reopen May 15. He also announced restaurants could begin outdoor dining on May 15 and could begin dine-in services on May 21.

Like other Ohioans, the staff at the Sidney-Shelby County Health Department learned of DeWine’s plans Thursday afternoon. Shelby County officials didn’t have much time to review the new orders and formulate their local response before becoming inundated with questions.

The health department’s approach to answering most inquires late last week was to provide the Responsible Restart Ohio documents and advise people to follow the state’s guidelines.

“Everybody in Ohio is in this together and trying to work through it,” Topp said.

Throughout the past two months, most of the Sidney-Shelby County Health Department’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has involved answering questions from individuals and organizations in the community.

The officials also have responded to complaints about social distancing not being practiced at businesses and people not wearing face masks, although there haven’t been many of those reports recently.

“We’re just basically answering questions,” Topp said. “We have followed up on some complaints from workers at these facilities.”

When the health department does receive complaints, it follows up with the business in question, usually with a phone call. Most issues are resolved with a call, Topp said.

The Sidney-Shelby County Health Department hasn’t fined anyone nor issued any cease and desist orders for noncompliance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The health department still is developing its plans for how it will enforce the state’s Responsible Restart Ohio guidelines though Topp expects most of the enforcement will remain complaint-driven.

“If we get a call, we’ll make note of that and follow up with the company or business,” he said.

For more information about the Responsible Restart Ohio, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov.

For more information about the Sidney-Shelby County Health Department, visit www.shelbycountyhealthdept.org or call 937-498-7249.

By Kyle Shaner

kshaner@sidneydailynews.com

Reach the writer at kshaner@sidneydailynews.com or 937-538-4824.

Reach the writer at kshaner@sidneydailynews.com or 937-538-4824.