Valley health officials plead with public to stay home

A health advisory approved Tuesday by the Trumbull County Combined Health District is leading to the voluntary closure of all in-person instruction in K-12 schools. Athletics also are postponed, at least until Dec. 22.

The COVID-19 advisory asks people to stay home except in essential situations.

Health board member Jack Simon of Girard said the measure has no teeth to it.

He said the advisory lacks enforcement protocols, and criticized state and local authorities for not giving the board something to make it more meaningful. He said more than 1,000 complaints have been sent in to the health district about lack of compliance with state health orders, and just one is starting to go through the legal system with no charges yet filed against the business.

The advisory asks employers to allow work from home whenever possible, beginning today, and asks people to stay home unless reporting for essential work “or for essential needs such as seeking medical care, going to the grocery store or pharmacy, picking up food or receiving deliveries.”

Health commissioners in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties said at an earlier news conference Tuesday that none intend to issue orders or advisories guiding establishments ahead of the Thanksgiving eve holiday but expect they will follow existing guidelines. The three health commissioners said state and local officials are working to enforce occupancy guidelines and other protocols.

The Eastwood Mall in Niles is planning to open as usual at 6 a.m. Friday, but it will not be doing the usual promotions the shoppers are accustomed to, said Joe Bell, director of corporate communications for Cafaro Company, which owns the mall.

Instead, the mall will be offering a seasonlong promotion in which patrons who spend a total of $250 or more at any combination of stores in one day will receive a gift at the customer service desk.

“We’re trying to do our best to keep the festivities of the holiday season,” Bell said. “We want to make it a good, happy and safe experience for everyone.”

Wes Vins, Columbiana County health commissioner; Ryan Tekac, Mahoning County health commissioner; and Frank Migliozzi, Trumbull County health commissioner, asked people to do the right thing and follow the advice to not get together for the Thanksgiving holiday and follow the standard recommendations of wearing a mask, keeping distance and handwashing.

Migliozzi said the advisories serve to “raise awareness” about the high level of spread in Trumbull County, and should be seen as a plea asking individuals to follow the recommended guidelines.

“It’s not just lip service,” Migliozzi said. It also gives schools and businesses “tools” they can act on to go remote with education and work.


All schools in Trumbull County have agreed to go remote, according to the Trumbull County Educational Service Center. In-person classes are not expected to resume until the new year.

The advisory is 28 days long, or two incubation periods of the COVID-19 virus, Migliozzi said.

The advisory also advises developmental disability agencies to close in-person adult day cares and recommends people in group homes shelter in place.

No decision was issued Tuesday for Mahoning County schools going all remote, but the Mahoning County commissioners and Mahoning County Public Health District are asking the community to “mask up,” “stay home” and “limit gatherings.” Youngstown schools have been all-remote since the start of this academic year.

The Mahoning advisory states people should limit travel outside of Ohio and only leave home to go to work or school or for essential needs.

The advisories come after soaring cases of the virus and increased hospitalization of patients in the region and the state.

Positivity rates for the virus are up, from 2.7 percent before the surge, to 11.5 percent most recently in Trumbull County. And cases went from 91 per 100,000 people to 676 recently, Migliozzi said. The county went from 20 to 30 cases a day to 150-200, adding more than a 1,000 new cases in a week, he said.

Nearly 50 percent of cases in the county have happened in the last few weeks, he said.

Cases in Mahoning County went from 41 cases a day Oct. 31 to 171 cases per day, a 300 percent increase, Tekac said.

The increase has been quadrupled in Columbiana County, Vins said.

The state’s positivity rate went up to 14 percent, Gov. Mike DeWine said Tuesday.

There were 8,604 new cases reported in the state — and there are still about 6,000 tests that haven’t been reported because they are being double-checked, DeWine said.

Three new deaths were reported in Trumbull County but none in Mahoning and Columbiana counties. The state reported 96 new deaths Tuesday, well above the 21-day average of 35 deaths a day attributed to COVID-19.

DeWine warned the next few weeks are critical for preventing a “real disaster.” Health, the health care system and the economy are at risk, he said.



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