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Mask mandate for Trumbull makes history

Today is an historic day.

It marks the first known time that we, the people of Trumbull County, have been ordered by our government to wear a particular garment.

Effective at 6 p.m. Wednesday, anyone outside their home now is mandated to wear a face mask. It comes, of course, in an attempt to slow the swift uptick in the number of local COVID-19 cases.

The order came from the Ohio Department of Health at the urging of Gov. Mike DeWine.

We understand his concern.

Trumbull County, like six other Ohio counties, was at Level 3 of four on the governor’s new COVID-19 alert system. That “red” designation was assigned to Trumbull County because the county surpassed four of seven indicators in DeWine’s rating system.

They are: an average of at least 50 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people over a two-week period; more than 50 percent of new cases originated from settings that did not include large gatherings; during at least one of the past three weeks, a sustained increase in emergency room visits over a five-day period; and an increase in outpatient hospital visits over a five-day period.

Here’s how Trumbull County stacked up:

• The Ohio Department of Health’s website states there were around 150 cases in Trumbull County in the previous two weeks, as daily new cases and emergency room visits with COVID-19 symptoms or diagnoses reached their highest levels during the pandemic.

• On June 22, new COVID-19 cases reached 21, a record for the county, the website states. It subsequently exceeding that number on July 1, 2 and 3.

• Also, the website states in early June, Trumbull was holding steady at an average of 20 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents and that more than doubled to 45 in mid-June.

• Between June 3 and 9, the average number of people visiting the emergency room in the county for the virus was one. It increased to eight on June 29, and the department states “these numbers may grow.”

The website adds this about Trumbull County: “In addition, people are also visiting their doctors more often and being diagnosed with COVID-19. Trumbull County currently has several health care and long-term care facility outbreaks.”

The remaining three of the seven indicators that Trumbull County did not surpass in order to be moved into the Level 3 category were: growth in the number of county residents admitted to hospitals with COVID-19 over a five-day period; intensive care unit occupancy rate surpassing 80 percent for three of the last seven days; and a sustained increase of new cases for five straight days.

Trumbull County listed 1,016 cases Wednesday, an increase of 17 from Tuesday. Cases in Trumbull have increased by 45.4 percent since June 21.

So, just how did we get here? We question how Trumbull County came to be singled out, despite the fact that more cases, hospitalizations and deaths have been reported in other nearby counties that have not been ranked as Level 3 or higher on the governor’s system.

Neighboring Mahoning County, for instance, recorded 1,861 cases Wednesday, an increase of 12 from Tuesday.

Of the 376 COVID-19 deaths in the Valley, 239 are in Mahoning County, 77 are in Trumbull and 60 are in Columbiana.

Yes, of Ohio’s 88 counties, Trumbull ranks eighth highest, but Mahoning ranks fourth.

Indeed, it’s all very perplexing.

Statewide, the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t showing signs of slowing down, with 1,277 new cases reported Wednesday — the fourth-most ever. Overall, 60,181 COVID-19 cases were reported in the state as of Wednesday, with 42,111 people presumed recovered, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

Statewide, 21 deaths were reported Wednesday.

For now, we must remain hopeful.

We hope visitors and residents do not react to the mandate with quick decisions to avoid Trumbull County retailers, restaurants or other places of business. We hope this mask mandate does not encourage those who normally would do business in Trumbull County to instead travel to neighboring counties or even across the state line to Pennsylvania to conduct their business.

But most of all, we hope that when Trumbull County residents and visitors follow the mandate, that we see a steep decline in cases and that will bring an end to the mask mandate and a return to good health here and everywhere.

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