Local health leaders urge area governments to enact mask mandates

Jeff Cooper, commissioner of Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County, talks about the uptick in COVID-19 cases in the region and urged local governments to enact mask mandates for public indoor spaces. Jim Noelker/Staff
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Jeff Cooper, commissioner of Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County, talks about the uptick in COVID-19 cases in the region and urged local governments to enact mask mandates for public indoor spaces. Jim Noelker/Staff

Health agencies in Ohio cannot require public masking in response to the current COVID-19 spike, but local governments can and should, the Montgomery County health commissioner said today.

“We’re at the point where Public Health is encouraging all Montgomery County jurisdictions ... to consider executive orders and legislative action to require public indoor masking in all community settings within their jurisdiction, including work places, grocery stores, restaurants and other venues,” Jeff Cooper, Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County health commissioner, said. “We know that masking works.”

Cooper cited limits on public health agencies regarding masks because of SB 22.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Also, Dayton-area hospital leaders today said COVID-19 hospitalizations are approaching the peak reached last December and said the spike is straining the health care system.

“These significant increases are not sustainable for the capacity in our hospitals, nor for the staff, our caregivers and those frontline staff, we depend on,” said Sarah Hackenbracht, president and CEO of the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association.

“Our hospitals and our caregivers need relief and need your help,” Hackenbracht said.

She said 332 hospitalizations Wednesday locally represents a 58% increase in the last 21 days.

“And we have 73 patients who are critically ill in our intensive care units across the region,” Hackenbracht said. “That’s a 24 percent increase over the last 21 days for a very limited number of beds that we have.”

She also noted hospitals are not seeing the same patients they were treating earlier in the pandemic.

“These individuals are much younger,” Hackenbracht said.

Other speakers today talked about the need for masking, and vaccinations, and the number of cases involving children.

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