Understandably, there have been many questions regarding the “Stay-at-Home order issued on Sunday, March 22, by Ohio Department of Health (ODH) Director Dr. Amy Acton. An important component of that order is that businesses and establishments deemed to be “non-essential” close through the period of the order which is Monday, April 6. To a degree, there has been uncertainty over what businesses fall into the non-essential category.

Jackson County Health Commissioner Kevin Aston attempted to address this question and related issues in an open letter to the businesses of Jackson County. This letter as well as a link to the full state order can be found on the website and Facebook page of the Jackson County Health Department. The Telegram is sharing the letter in its print edition, on the newspaper’s website and also its Facebook page. Much more information on the state order and the overall coronavirus situation can be accessed at the state level by calling 1-833-4-ASK-ODH or connecting with coronavirus.ohio.gov.

Following is the complete text of Health Commissioner Aston’s letter:

 

“Businesses of Jackson County:

“On Sunday, March 22nd, 2020, Governor DeWine and Dr. Acton of the Ohio Department of Health issued a Stay At Home Order which requires that businesses that are not ‘essential’ close so that their employees stay home.  The state government has referred questions regarding this Stay At Home Order to local health departments to answer.  The Jackson County Health Department has been so bombarded with questions and concerns about this Order that it is impossible to answer and address them all.  The JCHD’s primary focus must remain on managing other critical aspects of this public health emergency.

“Therefore, I am communicating to the public to please carefully read the Order and follow it as best as you can.  The intent of the Order is to ensure that the maximum number of people self-isolate in their homes as possible while at the same time allowing essential services to continue.  Having as many people self-isolate as possible will slow the spread of COVID-19 to the greatest extent possible, and this is a key part of our collective strategy to respond to this coronavirus pandemic.  We are all responsible for making this strategy successful and this Stay At Home Order effective. 

“The Order provides for many, many exceptions that allow for certain activities that some people may not realize why they are essential.  While the Jackson County Health Department is not forgoing all enforcement, we cannot logistically police all of these activities while also maintaining our primary focus on handling other aspects of this public health emergency.  If employees have questions about infection control at work or essentiality, please discuss those with your supervisor.

“I want to thank all of the essential businesses that truly should be operating that are helping everyone through this crisis.  And I call upon the good businesses and people of our county to help us maintain public safety and save human lives by studying the Order carefully and by doing what they believe is the right thing to do.  For those that do not make the right decision, and for those who are just taking advantage of a loophole when they and others know deep down that they are not essential and should not really stay open, know that your reputation is on the line.  Human lives are more important than your profits.  If you are running a business that should not really be operating anymore, your employees and your potential customers will look back on your actions and will not forget them.  We must all make sacrifices for the greater good during this crisis, and for the businesses that are not truly essential, that means closing so that your employees may stay home.

“Businesses of Jackson County, please take a long, hard, honest look at your operation, and make the right decision about whether or not you are essential.  Thank you for doing the right thing and for complying with this Stay At Home Order.” 

Kevin Aston, Health Commissioner

Jackson County Health Department